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Vancouver homeowners not jumping at city's Olympic rental pr

Forced Evictions, Displacement, Olympics and other Mega-Events

Vancouver homeowners not jumping at city's Olympic rental pr

Postby TenantNet » Wed May 27, 2009 7:46 am

Vancouver homeowners not jumping at city's Olympic rental program
By Jeff Lee
Vancouver Sun
May 26, 2009 4:01 PM

VANCOUVER -- For the last week Vancouver city has been been accepting applications from homeowners who want to rent out their homes during the 2010 Olympics. No one yet has applied.

On the other hand, at least a dozen long-term tenants who worry their landlords may try to evict them to take advantage of high Olympic market rates have registered for special protection.

And a renters advocacy group says it is hearing of a new demand from "mom-and-pop" landlords and private condo owners: sign a short-term rental contract ending in January or give us higher rents during the Olympics.

"People, when they find a new place to rent, are being asked to sign fixed-term five-month rental agreements," said Martha Lewis, the executive director of TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre. "It is concern for everyone."

With the vacancy rate in the Lower Mainland over the winter hovering under one per cent and stories abounding about the lack of Olympic-period accommodations, it's been a landlord's market.

But in Vancouver, that may be about to change.

On June 1 a deadline passes in Vancouver after which renters can't be evicted for the Olympic period in order for landlords to capitalize on higher rents.

In early April city council agreed to charge homeowners a $106 temporary accommodation license if they want to rent during the Olympic period.

At the same time, it set a deadline of June 1, after which no landlord could obtain a temporary accommodation permit for a unit previously occupied. The rule ends March 31, 2010.

The city also set up a "temporary accommodation tenant registry", where renters can list their names and addresses. City staff will check the list against Olympic-rental applications and won't issue licenses for addresses on the registry.

On Tuesday the city said it quietly opened both the application process and the tenant registry last week. It doesn't expect a lot of attention until next week, when the June 1 deadline for rental eviction notices expires.

Lewis said the changes are good news for renters who already have a home. But they won't help people who sign the fixed-term agreements.

"We tell people not to sign them and to simply look for another place," she said.

Most of the complaints TRAC has received are for units in Vancouver and Burnaby. Lewis said Burnaby has not made any effort to protect renters.

Leslie Boldt, a Vancouver spokeswoman, said the city is also working with the Building Owners and Managers Association to get the message out that renters are protected from Olympic-period evictions.

Vancouver council has also asked the province to change its Residential Tenancy Act to prohibit Olympic-period evictions, and to open a full-time advocacy office downtown or along Broadway for the 12 months around the Games.

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