January 31, 2017
c/o: Realstar Management
77 Bloor Street West, Suite 2000
Toronto, ON M5S 1M2
Dear Ms. Grey-Wolf:
Please find attached proposed Tenant Protection and Relocation Guidelines in reference to Realstar’s rezoning application submitted December 16, 2016 to the Town of View Royal.
The guidelines are based on a policy applied in Vancouver’s rezoning and redevelopment process in order to assess and approve development applications. This policy was designed in response to the low vacancy rental climate, and actions of developers that caused unnecessary hardship on vulnerable renters who faced substantial, and unattainable, rental increases due to redevelopment projects. Additional background can be found here:
While the Capital Region District and Town of View Royal do not have a formal policy for developers to follow, there is widespread community concern for the fate of the large number of Christie Point renters. We, the Christie Point Advocates Working Group, believe these concerns necessitate formal adherence to the attached guidelines in order to ensure existing tenants’ protection.
Christie Point Advocates recognize the tenant relocation package offered by Realstar to date includes actions which exceed minimum standards required by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). However, the region’s extremely low vacancy rate, high market rental rates, the proposal’s phased development and lack of 3-bedroom options for tenants create concerns that are not addressed by Realstar’s current proposed relocation coverage.
It is our hope that the attached guidelines will be used by Realstar to ensure existing tenants are able to remain in any new development, or be ethically and responsibly transitioned out of the property in a manner which takes into consideration the involuntarily move tenants may be forced to make to facilitate Realstar’s project.
A copy of this letter and guidelines has been shared with the Mayor and Councillors of the Town of View Royal, as well as posted to our blog at www.christiepointadvocates.com.
Comments from Realstar are encouraged. We look forward to working with Realstar and the Town of View Royal to ensure Christie Point tenants are protected during all phases of Realstar’s proposed redevelopment.
On behalf of Christie Point Advocates Working Group
The Town of View Royal is requested to use these guidelines to assess rezoning and development permit applications for Christie Point Apartments complex and property, where tenants will be highly impacted or displaced due to major renovation or redevelopment. A Tenant Relocation Plan will be required when eligible tenants in existing residential rental units are displaced as a result of redevelopment or major renovation activity by the applicant (Realstar) as described below.
2.0 Renovations that Could Result in Tenant Displacement:
A Tenant Relocation Plan will be required for all redevelopment or renovation activity that results in tenant eviction, if the proposed project requires a rezoning or development permit. The following are examples of the types of renovations that could result in tenant relocation. It is not a complete list, but is intended to provide guidance to the applicant and tenants.
- New construction;
- Adding, relocating, or removing walls in units that change the floor plan;
- Increasing or reducing the number and type of units in a rental building;
- Upgrading rooms (e.g. kitchen and bathroom floor finishing, painting or tiling);
- Installing fire sprinkler systems linked to multiple units in a rental building;
- Extensive repairs to units that have been damaged by fire or flooding;
- Demolishing buildings that house tenants in rental units; and
- The discovery of asbestos or other contaminants during renovations and/or demolition.
3.0 Tenant Relocation Plan
At a minimum, every Tenant Relocation Plan should be created by an appointed third-party Tenant Relations Officer paid for by the applicant and agreed to by the Town of View Royal and Christie Point Advocates, and include:
- A list setting out the name of each tenant, the number of the tenant’s unit, the length of occupancy, the unit type, the size of the unit, and the rent the tenant pays at the time the rezoning application is submitted.
- Details regarding tenant’s current rent at the time the rezoning application is submitted, proposed rent if remaining during construction phase, and agreed-upon rent in new development unit.
- Financial compensation provided based on length of tenancy:
- 4 months’ rent for tenancies up to 4 years;
- 6 months’ rent for tenancies between 5 to 9 years;
- 10 months’ rent for tenancies over 10 years; and
- 12 months’ rent for tenancies over 20 years.
This can take the form of free rent, a lump sum payment or a combination of both.
(d) Vulnerable tenants (seniors, persons with disabilities, tenants with low income, mental
health issues, single parents and children) shall have the first option to move out under
the same conditions noted herein whether they return to the newly developed rentals or not;
(e) A minimum of 6 months’ notice to end tenancies after all permits have been issued;
(f) For tenants requiring assistance finding new accommodations:
- Three options should be offered that are comparable in unit type, unless otherwise agreed to;
- All options should be in the Greater Victoria and Western Communities areas, (with one option within 5km of the same neighbourhood), unless otherwise agreed to;
- All options should rent at no more than Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s average rents for the area;
- Include at least two alternate options within 2.5% of the tenant’s current rent at the time the rezoning application was submitted;
- All options offered should be comparable in unit type, unless otherwise agreed to;
- Where possible, options should be tailored to the tenant (e.g. pet friendly, mobility considerations, smoke-free, etc.); and
- In cases involving vulnerable tenants, the applicant is encouraged to provide additional supports as per section (j) below.
Note: If a tenant’s current rent is higher than CHMC average rents for the area, alternate
accommodation options will be provided at the tenant’s current rental rate at the time the rezoning application is submitted.
(g) Arrangement for an insured moving company, or a flat rate payout for moving expenses,
per move, as follows:
- $750 for bachelor and 1-bedroom households; and
- $1,000 for two or more bedroom households.
Note: If a tenant opts to remain at Christie Point after construction, the flat rate payout
for moving expenses will be paid twice to facilitate initial and subsequent moves in
and/or out of the property.
(h) Right of first refusal, at no more than 2.5% increase over the tenant’s current rental rate
at the time the rezoning application is submitted.
Note: If a tenant’s current rent at the time the rezoning application is submitted is higher
than the proposed market rent level, the Right of First Refusal will be provided at the
tenant’s current rental rate at the time the rezoning application is submitted.
(i) A 75% reduction in rent for tenants remaining in existing and new units during the
construction period for all buildings.
(j) Additional support:
- Town Staff will have discretion to request that additional financial compensation or support be provided to vulnerable tenants (e.g. seniors, persons with disabilities, tenants with low income, mental health issues, single parents and children, etc.);
- Additional supports may include hiring a housing consultant to assist individual tenants, additional funds for moving expenses, and/or working with non-profit agencies to offer alternative accommodation;
- For tenants without an able-bodied adult in the household, assistance with packing will be provided by the applicant;
- Disconnection and reconnection of hydro, internet, telephone and cable services for initial and subsequent moves; and
- Mail forwarding for up to 6 months for initial and subsequent moves.
(k) The applicant will order tests for asbestos in every building prior to any work
commencing on the property. Tenants are to be notified immediately of the asbestos
results. In the event that asbestos is found the applicant will locate and provide paid accommodation for affected tenants, including moving expenses.
Said accommodation shall be of the same quality as current premises or better, shall
include a kitchenette for cooking and $100.00 in grocery cards per month per 2 tenants, and $100.00 per month per 2 tenants in pre-paid credit cards. Should kitchenette accommodation not be available the applicant will provide a minimum of $100.00 per week per person towards dining out meals, and $100.00 per month per 2 tenants pre-paid credit cards. Said accommodation and stipends will continue until such time as tenants can relocate or return to their new premises.
4.0 Final Tenant Relocation Report
Prior to the issuance of the occupancy permit, a Final Tenant Relocation Report must be submitted and include:
- Names of tenants eligible for the Tenant Relocation Plan;
- Outcome of their search for accommodation;
- A summary of the monetary value given to each tenant (e.g. moving costs, rent, etc.); and
- Details regarding tenant’s current rent at the time the rezoning application is submitted, proposed rent if remaining during construction phase and agreed upon rent in new development unit.
5.0 Eligible Tenants
Regardless of the type of tenancy, all tenants residing in the building at the time the rezoning or development permit application is opened must be included in the Tenant Relocation Plan.
A tenant who has not resided in the property long enough to be an Eligible Tenant, which is a tenant who moves into the property after the rezoning or development permit application is opened, is not required to (but at the applicant’s option, may) be included in the Tenant Relocation Plan. Exclusion from the Tenant Relocation Plan is only permitted if the rezoning and/or redevelopment was disclosed to the tenant prior to moving into the property. This disclosure by the applicant must be incorporated into the lease agreements for new tenants and included in support of tenants’ exclusion from the Tenant Relocation Plan.
In any event, the applicant is required to comply with the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) with respect to all tenants (whether Eligible Tenants or not) and with the Tenant Relocation Plan (with respect to Eligible Tenants). Since the Tenant Relocation Plan has requirements which supplement those in the RTA, compliance with the Tenant Relocation Plan will automatically make the applicant compliant with the RTA. However, it is the applicant’s obligation to ensure that any specific notice, forms, or other documentary requirements specific to the RTA are complied with regardless of whether or not they are dealing with an Eligible Tenant.
The applicant should provide written communication apprising all non-Eligible Tenants of the redevelopment, and why they are not entitled to the Tenant Relocation Plan package, including modifying any rental advertisements to state redevelopment is planned for the property.
6.0 Ending Tenancies
Under the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), there are two ways to end tenancies – a Notice to End Tenancy or a Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy. A Notice to End Tenancy can be issued once all permits and necessary approvals are in place. This typically includes the development permit, building permit, all applicable trades permits, and the demolition permit. As above, the applicant will be required to provide 6 months’ notice to end tenancies once all permits have been issued. The owner can also use a Mutual Agreement to End Tenancy, where the owner/landlord and tenant agrees to the terms in which a tenancy is ended. At a minimum, Tenant Relocation Plan requirements described above regarding free rent, moving expenses, alternate accommodation, special circumstances and right of first refusal, as defined above, must still be offered to eligible tenants in these cases.
No later than upon acceptance of the rezoning application by Town of View Royal the applicant must give all new tenants notice of pending redevelopment in writing and upon the new tenant accepting and entering into a new contract to lease, said lease shall be no more than 6 months in duration, thereafter rent will be on a month-to-month basis.
7.0 Submission Requirements
This section describes the tenant relocation submission process and the documentation required. For projects where a Tenant Relocation Plan is required:
- A Tenant Relocation Plan must be submitted with every rezoning or development permit application. All tenants must be included, although the Tenant Relocation Plan requirements will only apply to eligible tenants as described above.
- Early communication with tenants is essential. For rezonings, the applicant is encouraged to communicate in writing with tenants at the start of the inquiry stage. The objective is to inform tenants about the intent to redevelop and provide information on the process and timelines involved. For development permits, the applicant is encouraged to begin written communication with tenants when the application is opened. Note: Notices to End Tenancies are not to be issued at this stage.
(c) The Tenant Relocation Plan will be evaluated by Town Staff during the rezoning and
development permit process. Once the Plan has been agreed to by the applicant and
Town Staff, with discussion and input from Christie Point Advocates,the applicant should communicate the terms of the Tenant Relocation Plan to all eligible tenants. A notarized declaration must be submitted to the Town of View Royal demonstrating that each tenant has been given written notice of the intent to redevelop the property, the number of units occupied on the date of the notice, and which includes copies of a letter addressed to each tenant summarizing the Tenant Relocation Plan offer and signed as received by each tenant.
(i) A Final Tenant Relocation Report, as outlined above, must be submitted prior to
the issuance of the occupancy permit.
(ii) Legal Agreements – where the right of first refusal is offered, rental increases of
no more than 2.5% of the tenant’s current rent at the time the rezoning
application is submitted should be offered:
- In these cases, the rental units and the right of first refusal will be secured through legal agreements for a term of 60 years or life of the building, whichever is greater; and
- Yearly rental increases will adhere to rates set by the Government of British Columbia.
8.0 Tenant Impact Statement
In cases where tenants will not be permanently displaced as a result of rezoning or development, applicants will be requested to provide a Tenant Impact Statement.
A Tenant Impact Statement will be notarized and include a declaration that tenancies will not be impacted as a result of the proposed work. If the scope of work changes at any time and permanent displacement of tenants becomes necessary, applicants will be requested to provide a permanent tenant relocation plan as described in Section 3.
Communication with tenants: a pre-condition by the applicant is to provide written communication with tenants during the permitting process with information on the proposed project, as well as to inform them that tenancies will not be disrupted. Communication is to be made by way of written notice hand delivered, email to tenants who request this type of mailing, and notice on www.christiepoint.ca website.