Press Conference

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Plan A Real Estate Services Ltd.
887 Helmcken Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1B1
Press Conference Notes – Sep 12/14
Statement
– I’d like to start by apologizing to the tenants at 1168 Pendrell Street as
some of these individuals have had a negative experience with the
management of the building since my company took over.
– I empathize with their situation and understand how the notices they’ve
received from us could create a sense of uncertainty about their tenancies.
– I think it’s important for all parties to understand the events that have lead
to the current state of affairs and to work towards a solution which can
lead to a more harmonious situation.
– The current tenants signed leases with the previous owner which imposed
a number of important obligations on tenants which are not necessarily
included in a basic RTO lease…for example, the requirement to maintain
insurance. Unfortunately, the previous owner did not enforce a large
number of these types of lease obligations…for example, when we
purchased the building, over 90% of tenants did not carry insurance
despite the fact that their leases clearly required them to do so. When
we’ve asked tenants to comply with their leases, we’ve regularly been
faced with varying levels of resistance which, in turn, has required us to
issue tenant information notices. What’s happened here is that, under
previous ownership, the leases were operating in a grey area where on
one hand, there were clearly stated obligations to which the tenants had
agreed and on the other hand building management wasn’t strictly
requiring the tenants to satisfy these obligations. Tenants were implicitly
lead to believe that non-compliance was acceptable.
– My point of view is that the obligations detailed in the leases are important
and that the tenants are rightfully required to fulfill them because most of
these requirements are designed to protect the tenants and the building.
– On the overall the tenants have been misguided as their correspondence
with us indicates that are relying on the legal principal of Estoppel to justify
not complying with their lease obligations which were previously not
enforced. Based on several RTO rulings, this is simply not true as a
landlord can return to enforcing lease terms by notifying tenants of their
intent to do so.
– There are a few tenants who have gradually come to understand that they
are required to fulfill their lease terms and we’ve expressed our written
appreciation for this compliance. I believe the other tenants are also
starting to understand the same. Once this takes full effect, I don’t think
there will be a need to issue notices at a such a high frequency.
– Although misunderstandings over lease obligations has made the
ownership transition stressful for both tenants and my company, I think
that has can a temporary situation which can be resolved in the near term.
– My goal is to work towards restoring a pleasant environment in which both
the landlord and tenants live up to their legal obligations.
Allegations
Next, I’d like to address some of the specific allegations made in recent press
coverage:
Rent Increases
Firstly, it’s been reported (Metro News) that tenants have been threatened with
an illegal 30% rent increase.
This is completely false.
The only communication that tenants have received with respect to any irregular
increases has been an information notice stating the landlord is considering filing
a RTB-16 application with the Residential Tenancy Office. This application asks
for an independent assessment of current rents compared to market rents for
similar properties.
This application has not been filed to date and no tenant has ever been asked to
pay any such additional rent.
As well, the additional rent increases under consideration have been significantly
overstated in media reports:
– For over 50% of the units, the average rent increase being applied for is
less than 20%
I’d like to stress that these increased rents can only be charged if the RTO
agrees that the current rents are substantially below market value.
With respect to rents, it has also been reported that Plan A has asked tenants to
sign new leases requiring rent increases of 30%.
This is completely false as no such offers have ever been made to any tenants.
Tenants who have decided that it was in their best interest to sign a new lease,
are paying the exact same rent they were paying on their old lease.
To date, there have been absolutely no rent increases of any type, beyond the
legislatively allowable 2% annual increase.
In British Columbia, fixed term tenancies can automatically revert to month-tomonth
tenancies with the landlord being limited to the legislatively allowed rent
increase of around 2%. This can lead to invest returns so low that it becomes
difficult for landlords to make adequate provisions for maintaining the property as
expenses tend to increase at a much higher rate…for example, the City has
increased property taxes for this building by 30% in the past year alone. Despite
being disadvantaged by this legislation, Plan A respects the law and has never
sought to illegally increase rents.
Illegal Evictions
Second, Plan A has been publicly accused of implementing illegal evictions
based on trivial lease violations such as tenants not having carpets in their
bathrooms.
This is completely false.
Plan A has not, and cannot unilaterally evict a tenant as this would be a violation
of the Residential Tenancy Act.
In cases where tenants have persistently been non-compliant with material lease
terms, Plan A has issued Notices to end Tenancies for Cause which ask the RTO
to independently decide whether the violation is material enough to warn the
tenant or end the tenancy with appropriate notice to the tenant.
To date, such applications have only been made for issues which are all highly
material, such as:
– Tenants a allowing unauthorized occupants to reside at the building on a
permanent basis and
– Illegal subleases.
It’s very important for the landlord to screen potential long term occupants to
insure the continued security of the building and its current tenants. When a
tenant unilaterally decides to allow another occupant to live in the building, either
through an unauthorized sublease or by inviting an unauthorized occupant, the
landlord doesn’t have the opportunity to perform this function.
Letter to MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert
Very shortly, all of you will be emailed a letter which will be sent to MLA Spencer
Chandra Herbert today with copies being sent to Counselor Jeff Meggs and
Mayor Robertson.
The allegations made by Mr. Herbert were especially disappointing because I’m
not sure he considered the impact of making the unsubstantiated and inaccurate
public statements which he did.
I think the public rightfully holds its elected officials to a high standard and I think
Mr.Herbert should have reached out to either my staff or I to confirm the facts
before making statements which ended up being unnecessarily inflammatory.
The recent press reports have lead to numerous unjustified allegations and
threats against both my staff and I. In fact, in the interest of safety, yesterday I
had to retain the services of a private security guard to be present at my office
during all business hours. That’s not normal for a small office with 3 employees.
Closing Remarks
In closing, I’d like to reiterate that I empathize with the tenants and I understand
their desire to continue living in peaceful conditions at 1168 Pendrell Street. I
believe that this is possible if all parties respect and fulfill their mutual rights and
obligations.
Thank you


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