REPORTING · 8th September 2012
Trish Brown and Harry Hayward have gone through quite the ordeal over the last couple of months. It started when their landlord sold the townhouse on Little Wedeene which they are renting.
“We’ve been tenants here in this unit for the past 16 months, paid the rent on time,” said Brown. “Our landlords got a call from a big investment firm down in Vancouver and they bought 8 units and they’re purchasing two more in February so that will be a total of 10 units these guys would have bought since November.”
Brown explained a firm from Vancouver came up and called all the “for rent” signs they could find in the area to make purchase deals. She speculates these investors became interested after hearing about the boom which has been predicted to happen in Kitimat over the next five years.
“The investors believe there is 2 decades worth of rental income, with the boom happening in Kitimat,” says Brown. “The investor believes Kitimat is the next Fort McMurray or Grande Prairie...”
The buildings were sold in June and in July, Brown and Hayward found themselves with a new landlord. On July 18th, they were sent a new rental agreement with a higher rent and they wanted a 12 month lease term signed.
Brown began to do research and discovered that when a landlord purchases a tenanted building, the tenants must be evicted prior to possession, or the new landlords are legally obligated to uphold the previous tenancy agreement signed.
She also found documents which state landlords are not allowed to raise the rent by more than 4.3% per year (inflation +2%) with three months notice. The new rent would be a 38% increase. They have the right to decline such. They wrote a letter stating they do not have to sign the new agreement, it was their right and the new agreement was against the law.
The landlords came back and offered to lower the increase by 8%. Ms. Brown and Mr. Hayward informed the landlords of their tenant’s right. On July 28th 2012, they declined stating in a formal letter: “ We believe that the pressure you’ve put upon is to sign the new agreement is unfair and we don’t appreciate the verbal threat of eviction if we do not sign the agreement with your terms.”
Two days later, they were given an eviction notice and the reason being “The landlord has all necessary permits and approvals required by law to demolish the rental unit or repair unit in a manner that requires the rental unit to be vacant.”
They went to the Service BC Offices and filed for a Dispute Resolution to cancel the Notice to End Tenancy. Both parties would plead their cases during the conference call Hearing and the Residential Tenancy Act officer would decide if the eviction notice would go ahead, be cancelled and what would happen.
“We won our case,” said Brown.
Brown explained the case was pretty quick. It appeared the officer was on their side after it was explained they were evicted after receiving two large rent increases, even though the eviction notice was given because the landlords wanted to ‘renovate’ the unit.
“The officer questioned the landlord’s intent to renovate which brings the manner of Good Faith into question. The Landlord had no evidence that he was in fact going to renovate the unit like he said he was going to. The Residential Tenancy Act Officer also cautioned the Landlord about issuing another Notice, as we could file for monetary relief against the landlords and/or face administrative penalties,” said Brown.
This has not been a problem with most of Brown’s neighbours. To her knowledge, two left before the purchase and one signed the new agreement.
Brown wants the people of Kitimat who are renting property to know they have rights. If the property is bought out, they have the right to speak out and are protected by law, if rent is increased by more than 4.3% it is the right as a tenant to decline the increase.
Brown added the percentage which rents can be increased by will change in September when the Tenancy Act determines what the inflation rate +2% is. All the information is available online at the BC Tenancy Act.
She is reminding people to write everything down, ensure they are in the right and to keep all of the paperwork. They have dated and signed any documents which they have received or have given to the landlord this is very important evidence, especially if you file for a dispute.
If you have any questions or if you need any advice with your landlord issues, Trish Brown is willing to help and get you pointed in the right direction you may reach her on Facebook or email rainstorm241,,,hotmail.com.
Comment by Trish on 12th September 2012
Yes a Landlord is allowed to raise the rent after a year of renting, but they have to follow the Act and it states that a landlord may raise the rent by Inflation +2% from Sept 2011-Sept2012 the legal increase was 4.3%. Now from Sept 2012-Sept 2013 the legal increase amount is 3.8%
There are other ways a landlord can increase the rent more than the % allowed but they have to file paperwork Additional Increase forms pay I believe its $200 per application, provide evidence and then its up to the Residencial Tenancy Act. They may say yes, no or I will allow and increase by $50 no $200...
Yes Rent in Kitimat is super Crazy right now.. and the reason why I got Walter to write this article, is I want Tenants of Kitimat to know that they have rights.. I am actually pursuing a new line of work and I am actually going to school and becoming a Tenancy Advocate, I want to Help People...
Comment by firstname.lastname@example.org on 11th September 2012
By law a land lord has got no right to raise the rent until a year of when the renter has moved in! As long as a rental agreement has been signed!! It is getting so crazy here! Owner's are going over board!!! Asking for a whole lot of money....its crazy!!