Province pledges help for James Bay tenants frustrated over ongoing renovations
The province says it'll step in to help tenants of four James Bay apartment buildings after they filed more than 100 formal complaints against the property owner over the weekend.
The towers, owned by Starlight Investments, have been under renovation for two years and residents say their lives have been interrupted by constant construction, tarps placed over windows and balconies without railings.
They've also voiced concerns about noise and exposure to dust containing asbestos – and worry that once the work is complete, they'll be forced out of the building in favour of tenants willing to pay more rent.
The tenants organized over the weekend and filed 105 complaints regarding the construction with the Residential Tenancy Branch.
In a statement, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson said she has "asked the Residential Tenancy Branch to provide an information officer to help the 'Tenants of Starlight' group understand the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and to answer questions about dispute resolution processes."
Robinson noted the province has increased funding for the Residential Tenancy Branch so it can reduce wait times for dispute resolution, and has closed the fixed-term lease loophole deemed unfair by renters.
She said she's also directed ministry staff review the Residential Tenancy Act "and prepare additional options to strengthen protection for renters facing other challenging situations, including those being evicted due to renovations and demolitions."
Starlight Investments provided a statement to CTV News in response to tenants' complaints, saying the company is committed to ensuring construction is done "with as minimal interruption and inconvenience as possible," and that crews were trying to complete the work as quickly as possible.
An arbitrator with the Residential Tenancy Branch will now hear both sides of the case for each claim filed to determine an outcome, with residents hoping they can have rents reduced while construction is underway.