In Victoria, British Columbia, the Times Colonist
- Some Victoria councillors want the mayor to meet with the owners of six James Bay apartment buildings in the wake of residents’ fears that planned renovations to the buildings could see hundreds of tenants evicted.
Councillors Ben Isitt, Jeremy Loveday and Pam Madoff hope to get assurances from the owners — Starlight Investments Ltd. and its management company Larlyn Property Management — that planned renovations won’t displace residents, many of whom are seniors on fixed incomes living in hard-to-find affordable units.
About 60 seniors attended a workshop [last] week at the James Bay New Horizons Activity Centre. They were worried that they could fall victim to a tactic where a landlord evicts a tenant to undertake renovations, then re-rents the unit at a higher rate.
Larlyn senior property manager Gregory Parr was at the meeting, but refused to comment about residents’ concerns, saying he had not been authorized to do so. In emails and in talking to tenants privately after the meeting, Parr said that “despite the many rumours,” there is no plan by the building owner to evict anyone for renovations.
In December, tenants received two-month eviction notices saying they had to move out because of renovations.
Both Isitt and [Mayor Lisa] Helps said the city has few, if any, tools it can use to combat “renovictions.”
“We’re right on top of it because it’s a serious concern,” Helps said, “but don’t have any definitive answers about what policy tools the city could or couldn’t use at this point. We’re definitely looking at it.”
Isitt said the city cannot deny building permits in an effort to stop renovictions. “We seem to have no discretion in terms of the issuance of building permits,” he said.
“Our staff are legally required to evaluate applications for building permits based on technical compliance with the relevant building codes. It’s improper and beyond our authority to apply other considerations including the business practices of the applicant.”
Helps called the prospect of hundreds of tenants, many seniors, being displaced from what are now affordable units “very, very, very concerning.”
Isitt said his understanding is only four or five eviction notices have been issued at this point in one building. “One questions is though, is whether the extent of those renovations — which I think is installing new flooring and some work to the kitchens and bathrooms and potentially the balconies — actually requires displacement or whether there are alternate strategies,” Isitt said.