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Tenants protest renovictions in New West

Last Updated Mar 2, 2019 at 9:30 pm PDT

Residents of 732 5th Avenue in New Westminster protest renovictions on March 2, 2019. (Source: Taran Parmar, NEWS 1130)
Summary

New Westminster council passed a by-law aimed at protecting tenants from renovictions by fining landlords

The renoviction notices were given in December, but the by-law was passed in February

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – Dozens of tenants are marching through the heart of New Westminster this afternoon, protesting renovictions that may leave some homeless.

The tenants of an apartment building at 732 5th Avenue in New Westminster have been in limbo since September. They were served with eviction notices as units are slated for extensive renovations just two days after Christmas, and blame the landlord who purchased their building.

They say they are being pushed out so the landlord can do upgrades to the suites inside and then raise the rent, a process known as “renoviction.”

They say the landlord owns six other buildings in New West and two in Vancouver, and this is the fourth in just a few years that has seen tenants kicked out so the units could be renovated.

Shelley, a resident of one of the landlord’s buildings attending the rally, says she’s lived there for a decade and the landlord is “gobbling up” some of the last affordable housing in the area. She said she was with her daughter when she got the notice.

“I just kept her inside, and she goes, you know, ‘mom what are you going to do?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t even have a plan,'” she says through tears.

She and others are disputing the evictions with the Residential Tenancy Branch in two weeks, and say they are willing to accomodate renovations, as long as no-one is evicted.

Last month, New Westminster council passed a by-law aimed at protecting tenants from renovictions by fining landlords who try to do it, but the tenants have no idea if they are included and protected.

David Hendry with the New Westminster Tenants Union says the by-law is supposed to protect tenants facing situations like this but because of the timing, they don’t know if they will be covered.

RELATED: Renoviction by-law passed in New Westminster

“This eviction notice was given in December, and the by-law was passed in February,” he says. “So we’re hoping the city will include this case.”

He says if they are protected, the landlord would have to find the displaced tenants equivalent accommodations while the renovations are being done, or face a daily $1,000 fine.