Residents on top floor of Esme Manor facing evictions.

Residents on top floor of Esme Manor facing evictions.

Maple Ridge tenants, landlords address rental squeeze

Info session puts all into one room

The good thing about Thursday’s meeting was that it got everyone who was involved with the topic of housing together, at the same time, at least for a while.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare organized the landlord and tenant information session Thursday at the Greg Moore Youth Centre, in the wake of eviction notices issued last month to residents of eight top-floor suites in the Esme Manor on 119th Avenue.

“What I found most beneficial from having the sessions was having everyone in the same room, at the same time,” Beare said.

Several agencies were there offering assistance, such as BC Housing which provides rental subsidies or similar assistance through the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters program. The City of Maple Ridge, Beare and the seniors network and about 50 tenants attended. “They had the full scope of assistance available to them,” Beare said.

The main topic though was evictions that result from landlords renovating their properties, and “whatever constitutes renovations for evictions,” Beare said.

“It was a good meeting. It was a great chance to talk to the people that have been affected as well as any landlords that were in the room,” Beare said.

The government has said it will close loopholes in legislation around renovation-based evictions but Beare wasn’t specific about what changes are actually planned.

“We do want to see re-investment into our rental stock. We don’t want to them to get run down. But it’s important that we work together and find ways to do that that protect both the rights of the tenants and the landlords and this was a great opportunity to have that conversation,” Beare said.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read echoed the sentiment.

The city wants landlords to buy buildings and modernize them and improve the rental stock. At the same time, people need affordable places to live.

But who bares responsibility for the gap? Read asked.

Landlords will want to increase revenues for upgrading a building. “He’s a business owner. At the same time though, there’s a disparity between rental prices in the region and what people can afford.”

Read said that landlords can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to raise rents beyond the usual annual increase that is allowed, to pay for renovations that have been completed and to get rents up to market rates.

Recently, the occupants of eight suites in Esme Manor apartments on 119th Avenue received eviction notices. Residents of two apartments are appealing their evictions to the Residential Tenancy Branch.

The owner of the building, 22225 GP Inc. is spending $800,o00 to renovate the building, after which rents on a one-bedroom renovated apartment rise from $750 to $1,000 a month. The building is deteriorating and six tenants there are behind on their rent, said the company earlier. It added it’s not doing anything illegal.

A new roof and boiler, new doors, windows, bathrooms and exterior are planned.

The plan is to also evict residents on the other floors as renovations proceed but Read wants to see if the renovations can continue without further evictions.

She hosted a meeting involving the landlord, Beare and the assistant-deputy minister of housing.

“Our goal was to get face-to-face information on the plan for the building and ensure there is a plan to minimize the impact of any work, on theresidents.

There’s now support to those being evicted and “a longer term plan is emerging to ensure we don’t see people

lose their homes.

“I think it speaks pretty well that the owner of the building was willing to come in and talk it through,” Read said.