Multi-unit apartment renos getting “ramped up scrutiny” in wake of 1168 Pendrell eviction battle

City of Vancouver staff will “ramp up scrutiny” of building renovation applications for multi-unit apartment buildings, says City Manager Penny Ballem, to ensure the changes are not “under-the-radar attempts to displace long-term tenants.”

Ballem was responding to questions I put to her in council today in the wake of the apparent attempted eviction of long-standing tenants at 1168 Pendrell, where a new owner has issued a blizzard of tenant notices, including eviction notices while seeking to make further renovations at a building just recently upgraded.

Although the city welcomes landlord upgrades and improved maintenance, there is increasing evidence some upgrades are a cover for conversion to short-term rental or eviction.

In the face of this risk, Ballem said the city has established a cross-department team to monitor large building renovations to “oversee what has been submitted and what is actually happening.”

Where a landlord has plans that could result in dislocation, the city team will “vet the plans and encourage the applicant to provide a tenant relocation plan,” Ballem said.

The goal, she said, is to “avoid unnecessary dislocation.” (In some cases, tenants must relocate during renovation for health and safety reasons.)

These measures are in addition to a range of initiatives to support tenants, including a new advisory position to assist tenants in making submissions to the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch, which regulates rental properties.