New Westminster passes regulations to protect tenants from renovictions

Haider Nayani / February 6th, 2019

The fight for affordable housing has been ongoing for several years now. (rentersatrisk.wordpress.com)

The City of New Westminster passed amendments on Monday that hope to curb renovictions.

New regulations will restrict when evictions are permitted and compel landlords to provide temporary accommodations when evictions are considered legitimate. Rental rates will also be prohibited from increasing after renovations are done.

The term renoviction refers to the eviction of tenants due to the need to renovate.

The amendments were passed unanimously by city council. In a press release Mayor Cote said the bylaw was a direct response to the “issue of affordable rental housing in New Westminster.”

Business licenses can be revoked and fines imposed if regulations are not followed.

This could set a precedent for other cities that, as Councilor Nadine Nakagawa says, are also facing housing shortages and require creative solutions.

“I’ve worked with hundreds of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and this is the most pressing issue in New Westminster and across Metro Vancouver. Many of the people who have been renovicted are on a fixed income and will not be able to relocate in our community because of high rent costs” -Nadine Nakagawa, Councilor, New Westminster

It’s all a part of the city’s Rental Housing Revitalization Initiative, adopted on January 14, which also aims to slow down the redevelopment of older market rental buildings and provides a tax exemption which aims to promote the maintenance of existing rentals.

“We saw an opportunity to stop hundreds of people from losing their homes and having to leave the city. We can’t wait for senior levels of government to act.” – Nadine Nakagawa, Councilor, New Westminster

Mayor Cote also stressed the importance of taking action quickly to “minimize the risk of further renovictions as soon as possible.”

But David Hutniak of Landlord BC feels the new regulations will have some unintended consequences.

“If there is a risk that this is all made to onerous and too complicated, and that it adds all sorts of additional costs…then if I’m an owner of some 20-30 unit building, what I’ll do is, I’ll not do anything. I’m definitely not gong to be investing a whole bunch of money into the building because it’s a huge hassle.” – David Hutniak, CEO Landlord BC

Hutniak also feels the city sidestepped standard procedure.

“There was zero consultation with the industry, not even a phone call.” -David Hutniak, CEO Landlord BC

New Westminster will become the first city in BC to impose restrictions and fines for renovictions, potentially setting a precedent for other municipalities experiencing a similar shortage of affordable housing. Fines can be up to $1000 and some may be imposed daily.