Vancouver mom calls out landlord after 20% rent increase due to baby
A Vancouver mom is reeling from a rent increase after the birth of her child, and has now started a petition to change what she calls a loophole that landlords are exploiting for profit on the backs of new parents.
Victoria Walsh is on parental leave from her job at a market, caring for her infant while she fights to draw attention to tenants’ rights.
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According to Walsh, her landlord emailed her near the end of January and notified her that her rent would increase by 20% starting next month due to an “additional occupant.”
That occupant was Walsh’s months-old baby daughter.
“I created this petition after my own experience with a rent increase of this kind,” Walsh told Daily Hive Urbanized. “Since then, I’ve been struggling to navigate the legality of his claim and the dispute resolution process with the Residential Tenancy Branch.”
According to Walsh, she has reviewed the Residential Tenancy Act, and the terms of her tenancy agreement and spoken to the RTB multiple times, and it’s still unclear whether this is allowed.
“My tenancy agreement is worded in such a way that treats adding an occupant by pregnancy exactly the same as if I added a working, adult roommate to my household,” Walsh said.
“It just feels so wrong.”
Petition to stop predatory landlords
In her Change.org petition, which has nearly 1000 signatures, Walsh calls for the BC Housing Minister to put restrictions in place so landlords cannot take advantage of tenants.
“There is currently no specific clause to address tenants who give birth or adopt in the Residential Tenancy Act, so landlords have been able to impose these rent increases by citing the policies regarding additional occupants; overlooking the aspect that these ‘occupants’ are newborns and infants,” reads Walsh’s petition.
“BC housing should support Canadians who wish to pursue their right to have families by changing the RTA to defend against predatory landlords.”
Renting while parenting
In a city with a notorious affordability crisis, Walsh says it’s time to end the stigma about renting and being a parent.
“As a society, we still have this idea in our heads that we should be homeowners before we have kids, and that’s just not reasonable anymore, not in this city,” Walsh said.
“Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to have families. No one should be fined for exercising a human right.
“Even this experience with my landlord has not made me feel that being a parent and renting is ‘too difficult’ or that I should have put off starting a family. I have a great life with my partner and our daughter, and this challenge is just one of life’s many.”
Daily Hive Urbanized has reached out to BC Ministry of Housing for a response and will update this article.