LETTER – Amendments needed to the home rental system in British Columbia

Dear editor,

Recent letters have described tensions between owners/landlords and renters in Courtenay.

Owners have many advantages and should not be allowed to substantially increase rents through reno-victions or when tenants move. Owners receive tax advantages – they can write off repair and upgrade costs, mortgage interest expenses, administration charges and when selling properties, they are taxed as capital gains i.e. only paying tax on 50 per cent of their profit.

As a former owner/landlord and as a tenant who has been at the Residential Tenancy Branch in both capacities, I can attest to the fact that it is understaffed and we incur lengthy delays that add to the animosity between the parties.

I’ve had tenants who have cut down my trees to ‘improve the view,’ changed locks to deny me entry and started grow-ops, etc. When trying to correct behaviour or evict tenants, a substantial wait is incurred in obtaining a hearing, then achieving an eviction notice, an enforcement order and engaging a bailiff, since the police will not enforce such orders, especially given the low vacancy rate in the community. During the delay, some irresponsible tenants will simply trash a residence and disappear, leaving unrecoverable repair costs.

As a tenant, getting a landlord to fix plumbing or electrical problems, or to take measures to eliminate bugs and vermin is extremely frustrating given the innumerable delays.

The provincial government needs a bipartisan review and amendments to the system.

There are many exceptional tenants who value the property and simply want to get on with their daily activities and have a safe place to live. They receive little acknowledgment. As well, not all owners are slumlords and many work well with tenants to arrive at mutually beneficial solutions when problems arise.

Fred Muzin,

Courtenay

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