Certain Vancouver renters forced out of buildings being redeveloped or renovated may soon be eligible for significantly increased compensation.
In a report that will be presented to council next Tuesday, staff recommend hiking the compensation given to displaced renters based on length of tenancy.
People who have lived in buildings between one and five years would receive four months worth of rent instead of the current two, on a sliding scale of up to more than 40 years tenancy, where residents would receive 24 months worth of rent instead of the current six.
It would apply to all redevelopment and major renovations requiring “development permits and rezonings” that take place in the following properties:
- Purpose-built market rental housing.
- Non-market or social housing.
- Buildings with rental units above commercial spaces.
- Land assemblies where there are multiple secondary rental units, and at least five or more dwelling units are being proposed for redevelopment.
Staff have also prepared a report outlining how a “community-based Renter Centre” with an annual budget of approximately $5 million could be created, a key part of Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s election platform.
Cautious support from councillors
The proposed increased compensation was welcomed by COPE Coun. Jean Swanson, who has pushed for more protection for renters.
But she argued the proposals stop short of what the city could be doing, and that the extra money would only go so far.
“If you consider that somebody that gets reno or demovicted has to pay double rent [in their new place], those buyouts aren’t going to last very long. They’ll be swept up by the new rents and maybe last a year or two.”
Swanson also said the city should consider vacancy controls, limiting the amount landlords can raise rents for new tenants, but the city staff report doesn’t recommend such a move, saying there were no precedents in Canada and that more research was needed.
NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova said she was “very impressed” with what staff put forward but said staff should consider tying compensation amounts to income, not just length of tenure.
“Are we helping renters? I think that we have to ask ourselves, are we basing this just on … the amount of years they’ve lived in their rental apartments?” she said.
“We could make our renter protection policy very strong, but not consider the fact that it may not be helping the most vulnerable people in our city.”
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