Tenants in Coquitlam rental buildings will get compensation — and moving expenses — if their property is being redeveloped and they have to move out.
That’s the proposal in the city’s updated Tenant Relocation Policy, which came to council-in-committee on Monday (July 26) in draft form and is due to be finalized this fall.
Under the revised strategy, displaced tenants will get:
- Three months of rent, for residents who have lived in a unit for up to five years
- Four months of rent, for residents who have lived in a unit for six to 10 years
- Six months of rent, for residents who have lived in a unit for 11 to 15 years
- Eight months of rent, for residents who have lived in a unit for 16 to 20 years
- Ten months of rent, for residents who have lived in a unit for 20 years or more
As well, under the draft strategy that council has yet to formally approve, tenants in rental homes will get $750 in moving expenses for those in a studio or one-bedroom apartment, and $1,000 for those in units with two bedrooms or more.
The proposed updates to the city’s policy comes as older rental properties are being rebuilt and as new purpose-built rental complexes are being constructed.
According to a report from Jim McIntyre, general manager of planning and development services, there are 752 existing rental units that are waiting to be redeveloped including 193 units at the pre-application stage, 343 units at the rezoning/development permit stage and 216 units at the building permit stage.
As for new rental housing that’s in the city queue for processing, there are 6,407 purpose-built rental units and 1,250 below and non-market units, McIntyre said.
Under the revised policy, the city will require that developers provide clear and early communication with tenants about the future of their rental properties.
It also outlines the expectations for developers to help those residents find another home, and it requires the current tenants to have the right of first refusal if they want to return to the same Coquitlam property, with a 25% discount.
Developers will also have to give a checklist to the city to meet their obligations.
The Tenant Relocation Policy, which builds on Coquitlam’s 2015 Housing Affordability Strategy, doesn’t replace the provincial Residential Tenancy Act.
It also doesn’t require developers to replace the rental units for the properties they redevelop; in Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver and Burnaby, the ratio is 1:1.
PLAIN LANGUAGE MESSAGING
Coun. Brent Asmundson said communication to renters should be explicit.
“When we talk about giving the residents notification, people don’t like to read this stuff because it’s dry and it’s boring,” Coun. Dennis Marsden said, “and they don’t understand how it relates to them because we’re using terminology that they don’t see every day.”
Marsden suggested that renters who are about to lose their homes be alerted to the process by the city and the developer “and [know] where they fall in it and what they’re eligible for. I want it written in language that people understand.”
Coun. Trish Mandewo said she’d like to see an educational piece to the revised policy; in neighbouring New Westminster, for example, the city requires developers to meet with renters to explain the details about how they will be affected.
Coun. Craig Hodge said renters need to be treated fairly and shouldn’t be pressured to relocate before the developer submits a bid; if they go early, the renter wouldn’t be able to collect the compensation or moving expenses.
Coun. Chris Wilson also said rentals up for redevelopment should be occupied for as long as possible, given the Metro Vancouver housing crunch. “It’s so frustrating to see these units sitting vacant for a year or eight months or 15 months.”
The policy will apply to property developers acquiring existing rental housing sites — i.e., multi-family, co-op and non-market — with a minimum of five units.