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BC NDP wants protection for tenants evicted for renos

Provincial NDP Leader Carole James was in Vancouver’s West End today to push for increased rights for tenants, but stopped short of calling for rent controls.

“I think there are steps we can take first,” said James, standing outside a building where a number of residents received eviction notices earlier this year when Hollyburn Properties decided to renovate.

James laid out a three-point plan:

* Re-open the city’s residential tenancy office, closed in 2002, to help both tenants and landlords deal with issues such as renovations, evictions and damage deposits;

* Make changes to the Residential Tenancy Act so that renters facing eviction due to building renovations would receive more notice, have the first right of refusal at the same rent and possibly be entitled to payouts;

* Start spending the $250 million in the Housing Endowment Fund to build new affordable housing. James said there has been progress in terms of expanding shelter beds and protecting existing stocks but construction of new affordable housing stopped in 2002.

“Why would you leave that money sitting in a fund at a time when there’s the kind of crisis we see right now in our province?” asked James who was accompanied by the NDP candidates for next week’s Vancouver-Fairview and Vancouver-Burrard provincial by-elections.

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