Tenants on early retirement received a 61% rent increase and were told to shovel their own snow

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

64-year-old Douglas London and his wife Anne have lived on 123 City Line for four years. The building was sold in early December to a numbered company in Ontario.

Within days, notices of a $ 380 rent increase and termination of snow removal around the building were placed in their mailbox.

“I could have handled a $ 100 rent increase – it would not have bothered me,” London said, “but $ 380? No. We could not figure it out.”

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

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

London has paid $ 620 a month for his apartment, not including utilities, an amount he was told would rise to $ 1,000 on April 1st.

“This increase is necessary to keep pace with rising operating costs and to maintain coherence with the building,” the statement said, dated 17 December. “Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”

The London building and associated plot were sold on December 9 for $ 660,000. That is three times the estimated market value of the properties performed by Service New Brunswick.

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

Evan Murray is a real estate investor in Ontario behind the purchase of an eight-unit building on the City Line in Saint John that led to a significant rent increase. (Instagram)

Local Saint John property management firm Canada Homes for Rent (CHR) was hired by Murray to look after the eight-unit building. It handed over the notices to the tenants about rent.

In an email, the president of Canada Homes for Rent, Jeff Murray, said he would talk about the City Line property “as soon as possible,” but he was busy in the short term dealing with the aftermath of a weekend snowstorm.

London, who is on disability pension with a number of health problems, including heart problems, was also told he should take over the shovel by himself after winter storms.

“Where snow removal is not provided by the landlord, the tenant must maintain clear and secure access to the primary and secondary entrance (and) exit and parking lot,” read the notice, which was separate from the rent increase.

Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton Progressive Conservative MLA Mary Wilson is the minister in charge of Service New Brunswick and has strongly argued against the need for a ceiling on rent increases. (Jacques Poitras / CBC)

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

“Rental controls do not allow legitimate costs to be incorporated into rent increases, resulting in the risk that landlords spend less on maintenance,” Wilson said. “The more you regulate the rent, the more you limit the supply, as it deters new developments.”

But in many recent cases, large rent increases will be delivered within a few days after older properties are sold to new owners and is not tied to building improvements or an expanded range of new units.

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

Instead, her department issued a statement stating that tenants have some protection against unreasonable rent increases if they file a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

There is “an opportunity to have a rent increase re-evaluated for reasonableness,” the statement said.

“The reasonableness of a possible rent increase is based on the current state of the unit compared to similar units in the same neighborhood.”

Tenants in this seven-unit building on Fredericton’s Shore Street, including two renters in the ’80s, received rent increases of between 40 and 67 percent on Dec. 11 – 10 days after it was sold to new landlords. (Ed Hunter / CBC)

However, there are no public guidelines issued by the province on what a reasonable rent can be in certain neighborhoods, how large these neighborhood areas are, or how buildings are compared to each other.

The rental market has become so tight for apartments under $ 1,000 that London said he is not sure he will be able to wait for a longer review of his rise to unfold on the chance of success. .

He believes he can have a line on a smaller apartment for just under $ 700 a month, and if it is offered, he feels he will have to take it.

“When we got this increase, I started leading,” London said.

Jael Duarte, the Fredericton lawyer who serves as a tenant lawyer for the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights, believes London should have received at least six months’ notice of a rent increase since his letter arrived on December 17, the day the laws on termination changed.

But that’s another question London is not sure he has time to contend with.

New Brunswick is one of four counties that do not have some form of rent control.

British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are all limiting rent increases to renters by 2022, with some exceptions, to between zero and two percent.

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