Port Coquitlam appears set to join New Westminster in targeting landlords who use so-called “renovictions” to kick tenants out and jack up rents.
The city proposed bylaw changes on Tuesday that would place restrictions on landlords operating rentals with five or more units.
LISTEN: Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West explains new anti-renoviction bylaw
Under the proposed rules, landlords doing renovations that would require tenants to vacate their units would need to provide alternative accommodation to tenants and allow them to move back in without a rent increase.
The new rules were inspired by the plight of tenants at a building at 1955 Western Drive, where more than 100 residents are being forced out over a renovation.
Speaking on CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said the plan was to target “predatory” landlords.
WATCH: Port Coquitlam residents losing homes to ‘renovictions’
“You come in, you buy an apartment building, you target the ones that are older in age, and you move forward with some really cosmetic changes. Some new appliances, some new flooring,” he said.
“Oh, but we have to kick you out to do that, and sure you’re allowed to come back in, but you’re allowed to come back at double the rent.”
West said he believes that landlords doing renovations could, in many cases, provide alternative accommodation within the same building, or that the work could be done without tenants even moving out.
West also rejected the assertion that the new rules would discourage potential landlords from investing in renovations or buying purpose-built rentals.
WATCH: New Westminster tenants unsure if new renoviction bylaw will protect them
“The previous owner of this building came to the city dozens and dozens of times over the past 20 or 30 years to get permits to do a whole bunch of improvements, to do a whole bunch of upgrading,” he said.
“But you know what, they were able to do it without turfing people out and trying to charge them double to come back in. So this bylaw still allows people to make improvements to their building.”
In an emailed statement LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak said the vast majority of renovations shouldn’t require the removal of tenants from units, and that landlords are bound by law to treat renters fairly.
But he said Port Coquitlam did not consult with landlords on the bylaw, and that he had significant concerns about it.
“We are concerned that the city is proposing measures that are outside their jurisdiction and without proper consideration of the potential unintended consequences,” wrote Hutniak.
“Rental property owners, to remain viable, must be able to invest in their properties and have the ability to operate in a legislative and regulatory environment that is conducive to the risks and costs associated with providing this critical form of housing for B.C. families.”
Hutniak added that he was concerned the bylaw could result in older properties degrading in quality and a lack of new purpose built rental being constructed.
Port Coquitlam residents, landlords and other stakeholders have until March 26 to provide public comment on the proposed changes.
The city’s actions follow New Westminster’s first-of-its-kind anti-renoviction bylaw, passed in February.
New Westminster’s rules allow the city to fine landlords who evict tenants without notice, or who fail to provide them the right of first refusal after renovations are completed, up to $1,000.
New Westminster landlords now must also prove that renovations require a suite to be vacated and provide temporary housing while work is being done.
The city says tenants of 315 units have been forced out in recent years.