'Full of loopholes': New Brunswick tenants rally over 'renovictions'

·3 min read
Nichola Taylor rallied Wednesday for better rent protection for tenants. She and her family were evicted from their Fredericton apartment building because of what she calls 'renovictions.' (Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB - image credit)
Nichola Taylor rallied Wednesday for better rent protection for tenants. She and her family were evicted from their Fredericton apartment building because of what she calls 'renovictions.' (Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB - image credit)

When Nichola Taylor's landlord decided to renovate, she and her husband and nine-year-old daughter were evicted from their Fredericton home with 40 days to find a new place.

"It was a very stressful situation. We have a daughter and we had to find somewhere new to live. Plus in our building, we had a lot of seniors living there and this caused them great distress," said Taylor.

That's why Taylor attended a rally Wednesday in Moncton, holding a sign calling for a ban on so-called renovictions.

The demonstration was organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC NEWS
Alexandre Silberman/CBC NEWS

Vanessa Jones, a co-chair of ACORN, said most renovations are done for cosmetic reasons and can be completed with the tenant in the building. She said that the current rules are "full of loopholes."

"We need to basically close the loopholes … if you keep increasing rents and everything else, where are people gonna live?" said Jones.

"Landlords are using renovations to evict people in order to increase the rent for the new tenants who go in," added Taylor.

Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB
Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB

In March, the Higgs government capped rent increases for tenants for this year. Some landlords looked for a way around the temporary cap. More than two dozen landlords and property managers participated in a YouTube discussion in April that included talk of finding "loopholes" in New Brunswick's new rent-cap rules.

Based on The Residential Tenancies Act in New Brunswick, the landlord can terminate a lease agreement with a tenant under limited circumstances including if, "the premises will be renovated to such an extent that vacant possession is necessary to perform the renovation."

Taylor said, "There is no clear rule on renovations right now in New Brunswick. So basically they say they can't throw you out without a good reason. But the rules are too vague."

Using British Columbia legislation as a blueprint

Jones said she would like to see legislation implemented similar to that in British Columbia.

Under legislation implemented last July, if a landlord wants to end a tenancy for extensive renovations or repairs, they need to apply for an Order of Possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). Then there would be a dispute resolution proceeding where an arbitrator will decide if ending the tenancy is the only way to complete this work.

"That way the onus is put back onto the landlord where they have to go to the RTB … so this is what we are really trying to fight for. We want something more fair like that," said Taylor.

Advocating for those who can't fight

Although Linda Pearce has never faced an eviction, she said she attended the rally to stand up for those who are unable to.

Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB
Alexandre Silberman/ CBC NB

"I think people like me who have never had these problems, we need to start standing up and saying, 'yeah, everybody deserves to have a place to stay,'" she said.

Taylor said this issue impacts most people and can have a ripple effect on the community.

"This is affecting seniors, it's affecting vulnerable people in the society and homelessness has even increased, " she said.

"Not everybody can afford a rent of over a thousand dollars. More needs to be done to protect these people in society."

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