New Westminster city council has passed what it calls a first-of-its-kind motion to penalize landlords who carry out so-called “renovictions.”
The new rules allow council to fine landlords who evict tenants without notice or fail to provide them right of first refusal after renovations are completed.
The city says building owners will have to prove that renovations require a vacant suite and provide temporary housing to tenants when evictions are necessary.
“It’s almost on a monthly basis we’re hearing about a new building facing evictions, where the city felt it had to take action right now,” New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote said.
Any violation could net fines of up to $1,000.
The city says tenants of 315 units have been forced out over the past couple of years.
Landlords say New Westminster’s bylaw could create the unintended consequence of curbing much-needed rental construction.
WATCH: Vancouver council votes in favour of rental protection
“The developers of rental are frankly gun-shy,” Landlord BC CEO David Hutniak said.
“We’re seeing more and more measures taken to discourage investment in the existing rental stock. There is a lot of uncertainty about well, do I build more?”
Hutniak says the real solution is one we’ve heard before — creating new rental units at low costs — and he said that’s up to all levels of government to figure out.
“I mean this may likely be good in the short term for current tenants. I suppose it will be,” he said. “But all future tenants, they will be frozen out of the market, and if we don’t start building more then it’s going to be even worse for them.”
Cote said the city “wants to create a tax incentive program that really provides an incentive for landlords and building owners to be able to do proper maintenance on their buildings and do it in a way that doesn’t evict tenants.”