The P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing group is calling on the province to place a moratorium on all renovictions.
That’s where residents are evicted from apartments because the owner/landlord plans to demolish the building or do renovations.
“We think that the government needs to step in and put a stop to this, at least until the vacancy rate gets back to the average which is around 2.2 per cent,’’ said Ainsley Kendrick, who works with the affordable housing advocacy group.
The vacancy rate in Charlottetown is currently at 1.2 per cent.
Kendrick was reacting to news Thursday that nine tenants at 24 Water St. in Charlottetown received eviction notices last week because the building’s owner wants to construct a building next to the existing one and also wants to undertake some renovations in the existing building. He says there is asbestos in the plaster walls.
The province is looking to change the existing laws governing renters and landlords. Tenants who face eviction due to extensive renovations to their building would see their notice period extended from 60 days to six months. These tenants would also have a right of first refusal, meaning they would need to be given the option to move back into a unit after renovations are completed.
Kendrick said her group is pushing for more, pointing out that Vancouver has introduced a tenant relocation protection policy. If a landlord evicts for renovation purposes they have to provide financial compensation to the tenants. How much compensation would depend on how long the tenant has lived there.
Landlords in Vancouver must also provide a relocation plan for tenants before they are given approval to renovate.
“It’s about giving tenants options and assistance,’’ said Dee Miguel, also with the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing group. “If these things have to be done and there’s no other solution, other than having these folks move out of the space, then landlords should be responsible for helping those people, especially in a circumstance where it’s considered a health and safety issue.’’
Miguel said there was another case, also on Water Street, where one landlord did some painting and then jacked up the rent.
“Landlords are using these excuses to get tenants out of the building,’’ she said. “The reality is (some) landlords are taking advantage of the situation and they’re trying to protect their investment.’’