Vancouver couple’s rent going up after having a baby

A Vancouver couple is facing a 20 per cent rent increase because they had a baby. As Monika Gul reports, B.C.’s housing minister says the province knows this is a problem, and there may be changes coming.

Victoria Walsh is facing an expense she didn’t expect after having her firstborn, a rent increase of 20 per cent.

“We’re paying $1895 so 20 per cent increase is $2274 so almost a $400 increase. It’s pretty crippling,” said Walsh

The Vancouver woman says her landlord recently notified her and her partner that the rent for their one-bedroom would be going up because of their baby. She says their tenancy agreement mentions a 20 per cent increase for an additional occupant but didn’t expect it to apply to her newborn.

“She shouldn’t be treated like a roommate and I feel it’s very unfair, 20 per cent is just not a reasonable increase. It’s way too much for a baby that sleeps in my bed.”

Robert Patterson, a lawyer and tenant advocate with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, says he’s seen tenants challenge these kinds of fees, and decisions have gone either way.

“In my mind, the purpose of that fee is to help cover the additional costs the landlord might incur from additional occupants. So, another person in the unit doing the dishes, using all the same facilities, laundry facilities etc.,” he explained. “I think that logic breaks down a bit when we talk about infants and newborns.”

“I think it also makes sense of for legislators to reconsider exactly why this door has been left open to these kind of rent increases. And if nothing else, to at least consider limiting the amount that can be added on for additional occupants,” added Patterson.

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B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon suggested on Wednesday the province is looking at making changes in this area, but didn’t elaborate.

“We’re hoping in this situation that the landlord understands it’s a child and it’s not another person moving in, and they can find some sort of accommodation. We know it’s a broader challenge, it doesn’t happen often, but we have heard of instances of it happening and it is something that we’re looking at for a change but it’s going to require some work to do that,” said Kahlon.

He admits any potential changes wouldn’t help Walsh, who is now looking for a new place to rent, which comes with its own challenges.

“We feel like we’re being displaced into the most competitive and expensive Vancouver has ever been,” said Walsh. “Both me and my partner have been born and raised here, we’re Vancouver local, and now we’re getting priced out of the city we were born in.”

For now, Walsh says they’re disputing the increase with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

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