Renter receiving disability pension receives 61% rent increase and asks them to shovel their own snow

A Saint John tenant on disability pension and his wife are looking for new accommodation after receiving a notice of a 61% rent increase from their new landlord and instructions to start shoveling snow on their own. entrance to their apartment.

Douglas London, 64, and his wife Anne have lived at 123 City Line for four years. The building was sold in early December to an Ontario numbered company.

Within days, notices of a rent increase of $ 380 and an end to snow removal around the building were left in their mailbox.

“I could have handled a $ 100 rent increase – I wouldn’t have minded,” London said, “But $ 380? No. We couldn’t find that.”

The eight-unit City Line building in Saint John sold for $ 660,000 on December 9, although Service New Brunswick valued it and an adjacent vacant lot at just $ 216,900. (Robert Jones / CBC)

The Londoners are among a growing number of New Brunswick long-term tenants hit by substantial rent increases this winter after the province announced in November that it would not join other provinces in setting a limit on what homeowners can charge in 2022.

London paid $ 620 a month for his apartment, not including utilities, an amount he said would drop to $ 1,000 on April 1.

“This increase is necessary to face the increase in operating costs and to maintain consistency with the building”, we can read in the notice dated December 17. “Thank you for your cooperation on this file.”

The London building and adjoining land were sold on December 9 for $ 660,000. This is three times the assessed market value of the properties achieved by Service New Brunswick.

Brampton Ont. Real estate investor Evan Murray is listed as president of the company that purchased the property. He did not respond to an email regarding the purchase.

Evan Murray is an Ontario real estate investor who originally purchased an eight-unit building on City Line in Saint John, which resulted in a significant increase in rents. (Evan Murray / Facebook)

Local Saint John property management company Canada Homes for Rent was hired by Murray to look after the eight-unit building. He gave notices to tenants regarding the rent.

In an email, Canada Homes for Rent President Jeff Murray said he would speak to the City Line property “as soon as possible” but was busy dealing with the aftermath of a storm in the near term. snow on weekends.

London, who is on a disability pension with a number of health issues including heart problems, has also been told he should take charge of shoveling after the winter storms.

“When snow removal is not provided by the owner, the tenant must maintain clear and safe access to the main and secondary entrance (and) to the exit and to the parking space”, it reads in this notice, which was separate from the rent increase.

Progressive Conservative Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton MP Mary Wilson is the minister responsible for Service New Brunswick and has strongly opposed the need to cap rent increases. (Jacques Poitras / CBC)

Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson told MPs in the fall that the government feared landlords would be reluctant to maintain older buildings or build new homes if rent increases were limited.

“Rent control does not allow legitimate costs to be incorporated into rent increases, which leads to the risk that landlords will spend less on maintenance,” Wilson said. “The more you pay the rents, the more you limit the supply because it discourages new developments.”

But in many recent cases, large rent increases are given in the days after old properties are sold to new owners and are not tied to building improvements or an increased supply of new units.

Wilson’s office said she was not available for an interview about the recent rent increases that have followed property sales.

Instead, his department released a statement saying tenants have some protection against unreasonable rent increases if they file a complaint with the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

There is “an opportunity to have a rent increase reviewed to determine its reasonableness,” the statement said.

“The reasonableness of any rent increase is based on the current condition of the unit compared to similar units in the same neighborhood. “

Tenants in the seven-unit building on Shore Street in Fredericton, including two 80-year-old tenants, received notices of rent increases from 40% to 67% on December 11, 10 days after it was sold to new owners. . (Ed Hunter / CBC)

However, there are no public guidelines issued by the province on what might be a reasonable rent in particular neighborhoods, what the size of those neighborhoods are, or how buildings compare to each other.

The rental market has become so tight for apartments under $ 1,000 that London said it was not sure it could wait until a long review of its increase unfolds on its chances of success.

He thinks he can get a line on a smaller apartment for just under $ 700 a month, and if it’s offered, he thinks he will have to take it.

“When we got that raise, I started looking,” said London.

Jael Duarte, the Fredericton attorney who acts as a tenant advocate for the New Brunswick Tenant Rights Coalition, believes London should have been given at least six months’ notice of a rent increase since. that his letter arrived on December 17, the day the notice laws changed.

But that’s another problem, London is not sure it has time to fight.

New Brunswick is one of the four provinces that do not have rent controls.

British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island all limit renter rent increases in 2022, with a few exceptions, between zero and two percent. hundred.

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