A Moncton man who says that he received a more than 200 per cent rent increase notice on the weekend says his landlord has reversed his decision.
Josh Murphy says the province needs to move quickly on implementing a cap on unreasonable rent increases so a situation like his does not happen to someone else.
Murphy says he answered the door of his Moncton apartment on Joyce Avenue this past Saturday and was shocked to be handed a letter by his landlord indicating that his rent was being increased due to rising expenses for things such as maintenance and snow removal.
“When he handed me the paper he said the rent is going up $2,000 on Sept. 1 from $975 to $2,975,” said Murphy.
Murphy, who lives in the apartment with his girlfriend and eight-month-old son, says his landlord told him they were no longer welcome in the building.
“He told me that it was because he told us that there were no children allowed in this building and he specifically said that the only way to get me out is to raise the rent high enough so that we cannot afford to live here anymore,” said Murphy.
On Monday afternoon, after Murphy spoke to the media, he says his landlord contacted him and reversed his decision to increase his rent and he says that he is waiting for that confirmation in writing. He says his landlord apologized saying that he was upset over a parking dispute between Murphy and another tenant.
“I am surprised that he reached out to solve this issue, but this only happened due to media scrutiny. It’s also not a great look for the government if this continue to gain more traction,” Murphy told Global News.
“We are happy that we don’t feel like we are being pushed out anymore, but this is still a provincial problem. Not everyone will react the way I did. Not everyone will get this outcome. That’s worrying to me.”
Global News reached out to Murphy’s landlord but he declined to comment.
According to Doug Forbes with NB Acorn in Moncton, a tenant advocacy group, Murphy and his family cannot be evicted from their apartment based on their family status.
“The only way he could is if it had been on the lease in the first place and if he had a lease it would say no children,” said Forbes.
Forbes says there is no legislation stopping landlords from raising rents, as long as the tenant is given three months’ notice.
“There is no cap keeping people from raising the rent as much as they want,” he said.
A recently released 90-day rental review called for better protections against unreasonable rent increases, but Forbes says the province is moving too slowly on making changes.
“The wheels move really slow on some things and it takes forever to get hearings and talk to people and get anywhere with anything,” he said.
New Brunswick Minister of Social Development Bruce Fitch says the department is reviewing the recommendations in the 90-day review and is working to “modernize” the Residential Tenancy Act to offer better protection for both tenants and landlords.
“I want it sooner rather than later,” he said.
He adds it will take time for all government departments to work together to review some of the recommendations but a timeline for the changes should be released in the coming weeks.
The chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission. Claire Roussel-Sullivan, said in an email that housing is a human right that is recognized under the province’s Human Rights Act.
“A housing provider cannot discriminate against a tenant by refusing to rent to them because they have children or discriminating against families with children in other ways like illegal evictions, unreasonable rent hikes, withholding access to facilities, or harassment and intimidation.” said Roussel-Sullivan.
She added if someone believes that they are being discriminated against or harassed based on the prohibited grounds, “they can file a complaint with the New Brunswick human rights commission.”