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Rental market in Nelson set to shrink as new tenancy act changes come into effect: landlord's society

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
December 27th, 2017


New Residential Tenancy Act changes are threatening to permanently shrink the local rental market tighter than it already is, says the West Kootenay Landlord Society.

As part of the changes the province is eliminating the fixed-term-must-vacate style of tenancy agreement that is a part of Bill 16, recently passed in the legislature — a clause thought to be misused in raising rents beyond the legal limit.

West Kootenay Landlord Society (WKLS) member Trevor Jenkinson said around 10 per cent of the city's population is housed by "small-time landlords," who do not use the fixed-term-must-vacate clause to raise rents beyond the legal limit. 

"We have been made aware that many of these local landlords use the fixed-term-must-vacate tenancy agreements as a crucial part of the operation of their rental units for a variety of perfectly ethical reasons that are a necessary part of how they provide rental housing," he said.

"While well intentioned, we believe some of the changes made in Bill 16 will have the unintentional effect of causing … a further decrease in what is already a critically short supply of rental housing in the area."

If they cannot use the clause many Nelson landlords will no longer offer their units for residential rentals, sell, or use them for short-term rentals, Jenkinson added.

"There are more than 15 units that will be vanishing as a result of this legislation in our area," he said.

WKLS member John DeVries agreed.

"If you make it hard for landlords to be landlords through legislation and other things then a lot of landlords are not going to want to be landlords anymore," he said.

The West Kootenay Landlord Society asked city council on Monday to consider endorsing a letter to the provincial minister of Housing and the director of the Residential Tenancy Branch with respect to changes recently made to the Residential Tenancy Act

"As a smaller municipality, we have very few large-scale rental housing providers and much of our rental housing is provided by “small time landlords” who only have a basement suite in their home, or perhaps a couple of units in a building," read the landlord's letter to council.

Evicting a bad tenant who disputes a notice to end tenancy for cause is much harder to get rid of since the notice is often overturned at a hearing, said Jenkinson.

"The fear of becoming stuck with a bad tenant who cannot be gotten rid of is what will cause these small-time landlords to withdraw their units from the market and worsen what is already a dire housing crisis in our community," he said.

Jenkinson said a letter from council would carry some weight with the minister and director if it is endorsed and sent by the city. 

City council was sympathetic to the landlord's cause, said Mayor Deb Kozak.

"I agree that there needs to be quick access to help when it is needed," said Kozak. "Or else people can easily pull units off the market.

"Although local government does not make the rules, they do meet with minsters and talk to them about legislation and how it is working and not working."

Council made motion to move the issue back to a business meeting of council to decide the matter.

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