City of Vancouver implements new measures to help renters better understand and pursue their rights

Council’s approval of new actions will also support at-risk renters to remain in homes

Kennedy Stewart
Official photo

THE City of Vancouver announced on Wednesday that it is adding additional measures to improve support and advocacy for the needs of renters, and to better assist renters at risk of displacement, with Council’s approval of a City of Vancouver Renter Advocacy and Services Team, Renter Services Funding program, and a community-based Renter Centre.

Vancouver already has some of the strongest protections for renters in the region and the City has enacted innovative policies and practice that act as an additional layer of protection and in conjunction with the provincial government’s Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). This new suite of City programs and services will improve the capacity of both community based renter services and City services to help renters overcome barriers to pursuing their rights under the RTA and increase the timely provision of supports that can help at risk renters remain in their homes.

“The measures approved by Council today send a strong message to renters that we’ve got their backs,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “By equipping people with knowledge and strengthening existing advocacy and support services, we’re helping renters to defend their rights and reducing the number of people who might find themselves at risk of becoming homeless.”

Council also approved amendments to the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy and enhanced compliance and enforcement tools. These short and long-term policy actions increase protections for existing tenants impacted by development and renovations while ensuring long-term, strategic reinvestment in the rental housing stock, and new rental supply, to ensure a healthy rental housing market to meet the needs of renters.

Following Council’s approval of new actions today, renters across Vancouver will have more support through the creation of:

  • City of Vancouver Renter Advocacy and Services Team

–   A team which spans City departments will be established so that renters are prioritized in every department. The team – which will be made up of City staff from Affordable Housing Programs, Licensing, Housing Policy and Regulation, and Legal Services – will work with renters, building owners, landlords, community partners, and other levels of government to improve the renter experience and the stability of rental tenancies.

  • A new Renter Services Funding program

–   Recognizing that so many non-profit advocacy and renter-serving organizations already provide services to support renters to maintain their tenancies, the City will provide funding to these local organizations to increase their capacity and coordination to ensure they can reach and support more renters in getting their needs met and keeping their housing..

  • Support for improving the quality of Tenant Relocation Specialists

–  The City’s new Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy has highlighted the need for developers and landlords to both understand the policy and have professional and experienced staff who can support residents through a relocation. Under policy, applicants will be directed to use a tenant relocation specialist. A Tenant Relocation Specialist training program and in the future a qualified list of professionals would improve the experience and outcomes for renters that are required to relocate under a TRP.

  • A community-based Renter Centre

–  To be opened in 2021, the Renters Centre will provide a location to gather key renter-serving organizations, including City services, meaning renters will be able to access supports, education and legal advocacy for Vancouver renters in one place.

Staff will begin engaging with local renter-serving organizations and advocacy groups, Landlord BC, the City of Vancouver Renter Advisory Committee, and the provincial government for input on the creation and implementation of the recommendations approved by Council.

More information can be found here.