Tenants in six James Bay apartment building have feared the new owner of the buildings would evict them to carry out renovations but city officials now say the company has promised not to kick anyone out
Marion Bowman has spent years making a James Bay apartment unit her own.
But when an Ontario-based company bought her building and five others in the neighbourhood late last year, word started spreading that tenants could be evicted to allow for renovations.
“You don’t have to do anything bad as a tenant to get thrown out of your house after, for me, seven years, some people 20 years, some people 30 years, it’s just devastating,” said Bowman.
When some people started receiving eviction notices before Christmas, fear took hold — Victoria-Beacon Hill NDP MLA Carole James held a series of public meetings, the latest Thursday night, to hear residents concerns.
“We have to make changes so they don’t go through this kind of worry and concern month after month after month,” said James.
She wants to see a renovation loophole in B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act closed so landlords can’t evict tenants for renovations, then raise rents.
Because with a vacancy rate lower than 1% in Victoria, if tenants do have to move, there are few places for them to go.
“There’s no place to go and I think people are looking at the homeless in the province on the courthouse lawn and saying we’re one step away because we may not be able to pay the rents that are being asked of us and yet we have nowhere to move,” said tenant Victoria Adams.
For residents in James Bay it appears their ‘renoviction’ worries have been heard by building owner Starlight Investments.
“They guaranteed us they were not going to be evicting people,” said Victoria city councillor Margaret Lucas.
“They would only go and tear apart a place if someone wanted to willingly leave.”
Neither Starlight or its management company returned calls for comment.
The province said there are specific rules landlords have to follow to evict tenants for renovations, and it has no plans to change the Residential Tenancy Act.