Changes to a bylaw in Port Coquitlam will make it much more difficult for property owners to perform renovations of existing rental housing buildings.
Earlier this week, Port Coquitlam city councillors approved strict new regulations that are intended to discourage the practice of ‘renovictions.’
Under the changes, property owners pursuing building renovations must now relocate tenants to a unit of similar size within the building, with the same or less rent if the repairs require the unit to be vacant for a period of time.
However, if there are no other units available within the building, the owner must provide temporary accommodations to the tenant at another location.
Upon the completion of the unit renovation, the tenant must be provided with the first opportunity to either stay in the new unit or return to the repaired or renovated unit.
Furthermore, rents for returning tenants cannot be increased beyond what is permitted annually by the provincial government.
Exemptions from these policies may be provided by the municipal government if the owner is able to prove — backed by a technical report by an architect or building inspector — that the building needs to be vacant to ensure the safety and health of tenants during a repair or renovation. Additionally, the regulations would not apply to a building or units damaged by fire, flood, or structural failure.
“The intent of the amending bylaw is to reduce the occurrence of tenants being evicted from affordable rental housing units for the purpose of increasing rents,” reads a city staff report.
“The new regulations do not restrict repairs or renovations to rental units, but ensure owners would be required to approach repair and renovations in a considerate manner, such as conducting repairs in a manner that does not require the tenant to vacate the premises and performing significant renovations as suites become vacant.”
Port Coquitlam’s new policies follow the recent approval of similar regulations by the City of New Westminster that make it far more difficult to evict tenants for a renovation.
Rental housing vacancies across Metro Vancouver are currently at historic lows of about 1%.