Background - Housing in Vancouver

Housing – presentation to MVA Municipal Accountability Assembly

The housing Research Action Team has looked at a number of different approaches to solving the housing issues we face in Vancouver today and has narrowed in on a short and long term ask.

Enforce and strengthen existing By-Laws

Two existing by-laws have dominated our attention.  We have many people that are living in conditions that are completely unacceptable, sharing their rooms with rats, bedbugs and other vermin. In addition they are living in conditions that are dangerous, poor wiring coming first to mind.

The Standards of Maintenance By-Law, By-Law 5462, specifically addresses these issues. It allows city inspectors access to all buildings and gives them the ability to demand corrective action in order to comply with the standards set out in the by-law. The city council may, by resolution, have that work carried out by the city if the defect has not been remedied within 60 days.

We ask that the standards of maintenance by-law be better enforced and that the city inspectors make better use of the fines provision to force landlords to maintain suitable living conditions in their buildings.  Further, if more inspectors are required to provide adequate coverage, that the city put them in place.

Bylaw 8733, the “Single Resident Accommodation By-Law”, was created to prevent renovictions. The By-Law states that the Council or the Chief Housing Officer may:

“as a condition attached to a conversion or demolition permit for a designated room, allow the owner to repair or alter the designated room or the improvements or fixtures in it if the owner, to the satisfaction of and as required by Council or the Chief Housing Officer:

(i) locates comparable or better accommodation at a comparable or lesser rent for the permanent resident of the designated room during the course of the repair or alteration,

(ii) arranges for the re-location of the permanent resident to such comparable accommodation, and pays actual moving expenses,

(iii) gives assurances that, after completion of the repair or alteration, the owner will rent the designated room to a permanent resident, and

(iv) gives the permanent resident re-located under section 4.6(f)(ii) the first right of refusal to re-let his or her designated room from and after completion of the repair or alteration at the rent the permanent resident paid immediately before commencement of the repair or alteration, arranges for the return of the permanent resident to his or her designated room, and pays actual moving expenses;”

There are many landlords that have not respected this by-law and have used renovations as a means to renovict tenants. We believe that proper enforcement of this by-law would have helped to reduce the increased homeless numbers that our city has seen.

We ask that the city enforce these provisions of the Single Room Accommodation By-Law and, to ensure that landlords comply, require all tenants be asked to sign a document that outlines the provisions that the landlord will make for them regarding temporary accommodations, moving provisions and the guarantee of no rent increase., and that this document be filed with the application. We also ask that the by-law region is expanded to cover all of Vancouver.

Covenant

Rising land values have fueled the epidemic of renovictions and greed evictions. Nowhere has this been better seen than in the downtown Eastside but by no means is it limited there. New construction that offers affordable pricing for low income families or low rentals rates for fixed income earners provides no long-term guarantees. As an example if a tenant leaves, the new tenant can be charged market rates.

Therefore, even with the best of intentions, the best way to address the situation is by means of perpetual covenants. A perpetual covenant is a contract that specifies certain conditions for that strata title over its full lifetime. Covenants are not new in Vancouver, and covenants that protect lower income people with land value and rental rates have been used extensively at Whistler. These covenants insure that the strata title value or the rental rate (for rental properties) is limited as to how much it may increase each year.

As our long term goal we are asking that the city work with us to make covenants a component in all new developments. First, that 10% of the suites be protected for lower income families and individuals by offering them at an affordable strata title price or rental rate, dependent if the building is rental or not, and restricting the maximum increase in value or rent each year to the inflation rate. Second, that 10% of the suites have their strata title given to the city and that the city manages or contracts management of those suites to BC Housing, Atira or some other organization that has the expertise to do so, and that the rental rates be the welfare rate.

 

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  • commented 2016-02-03 15:00:38 -0800
    This is great stuff; but what about senior’s housing?

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