Increased tenant protection imposed

New rules will assist Vernon low-income tenants displaced by development.

New rules will assist low-income tenants displaced by development.

Vernon council approved a policy Monday that will require companies redeveloping a rental property to provide existing low-income tenants with two month’s rent and two month’s eviction notice — one more each than mandated under provincial law.

“We’re trying to be leaders with this issue,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham of the challenge displaced tenants face when seeking affordable housing.

Council began reviewing its options after plans arose for a 37-unit seniors-oriented apartment on 30th and 29th avenues. The project would lead to 36 tenants moving out of the former motel and three houses on the site.

“One month’s rent is not adequate compensation when you have the damage deposit (for a new unit) or switching utilities over,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

Quiring doesn’t believe the city’s policies will negatively impact the costs for developers.

“We’re not talking a lot of money so it shouldn’t hurt business,” he said.

Cunningham says the policy will be welcomed by some developers who are concerned about what happens to tenants.

“We’re not trying to dump the whole onus on developers but when we give developers an opportunity to get involved, they are amenable,” she said.

Under the policy, the additional compensation would be provided to the housing outreach worker at the John Howard Society.

The outreach worker would then co-ordinate the dispersal of the funds to displaced tenants for their bona fide housing needs.

“It will provide honest and effective protection to those being displaced so they can move from one locale to another,” said Dale Rintoul, a city planner.

“The main intent of the policy is not to see tenants become homeless.”