The City of Vancouver said it is making “early progress” towards the development of a new Renters Office, thanks to the hiring of the office’s first staff member and the creation of a Renters Enquiry Line.
“We understand the extreme pressure renters in Vancouver face, which is why we are taking action to add immediate supports for renters at the City,” said Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services.
Noting that the “majority” of Vancouver households rent, Singh said the Renters Office “helps us ensure these households have a place at the city to access timely information and receive support in exercising their tenancy rights under provincial and city policies.”
The first staff member of the Renters Office is described as a Renter Advocacy and Support Services Officer, “who will work to coordinate staff to improve City services for renters, to collaborate with and support external community-based renter serving organizations, and to work with rental advocates to support renters impacted by renovation and redevelopment,” she added.
A Renters Enquiry Line is also now operational and meant to provide information on City of Vancouver renter protection policies and help renters in locating building-specific information. Renters can contact 604-673-8291 or send the office an email inquiry. The phone line and email is monitored daily and staff aim to respond within two business days.
The new line is in addition to the already-established Residential Tenancy Branch line, a province-wide service.
The new office comes as a result of a motion by Green Party city councillor Pete Frey – which was put forward last November – to establish a process for creating a new municipal renter’s office.
Such an office would “provide an official City of Vancouver point of contact for renter and tenancy issues, including standards of maintenance, tenant relocation and protections, and renovictions,” the motion said.
City staff are expected to report back to Council in the coming weeks on additional actions to strengthen protections for renters through improvements to City policies, advocacy to partners at the Province, and the new services of a City of Vancouver Renters Office.