Blame the Tenancy Act

It was a common theme during Tuesday's public hearing on short-term rentals - the revamped Residential Tenancy Act is stopping some owners of legal secondary suites and carriage homes from seeking long-term tenants.

Most of the more than 50 people who spoke out against the city's short-term rental plan were owners of either secondary suites or carriage houses. They bemoaned restrictions to the bylaw excluding their specific properties from being used for short-term rentals.

It was rationalized that including those for short-term rentals would hinder the stock of long-term rentals as the city digs out from a vacancy rate in 2017 that hovered near zero.

It's now at 1.9 per cent.

But, some who spoke said bad personal experiences, or hearing of horror stories related to bad tenants, have led them to decide never to rent to long-term tenants.

Steve Chung said it has cost him tens of thousands of dollars trying to get tenants out of his two-bedroom suite.

"I have been forced, by the rules, to let people live for free," he said. "It cost me $35,000 in one instance. You get a judgement, but how do you get money from a deadbeat."

Another woman told council her 65-year-old husband was forced to go back to work after a long-term tenant trashed their carriage house, leaving behind a bill for $20,000 in damage and back-rent, "thanks to the new Tenancy Act."

Council took up the mantle for those complaining about the act.

Coun. Charlie Hodge called it a flawed act, and implored council to lobby the Union of BC Municipalities to make changes.

Coun. Brad Sieben went further, saying the act needs a serious overhaul.

He said the reason it is the way it is now is because there were bad landlords who weren't being fair to their tenants.

"But now, the pendulum has swung so far the other way that people's major investments are being jeopardized by going to this path, and I can't blame them for going to other options,." said Sieben.

"Everybody I've spoken to can list off two or three or four people who have had long-term tenants who have had problems, have lost money, and there's been property damage."

Sieben said people should be persuaded to look at long-term rentals, not being dissuaded.

"But, that's what the government's increasingly vigorous regulations are doing. It wasn't good to start with and it's getting worse."

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