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Student renters should know their rights against Vancouver landlords

with prices climbing higher, it's difficult for students to find affordable housing
With prices climbing higher, it’s difficult for students to find affordable housing. Photo: Charles Dale

Reported by Charles Dale

Students in Vancouver are struggling with landlords who overstep boundaries.

In Vancouver’s overheated rental market, it is difficult for students to find affordable housing. With the typical rent for a one-bedroom unit in the city currently well over $1,000 per month, many students find themselves having to move into more affordable basement suites and home-stays.

Rules under someone else’s roof

Jovaria Ghani, a peace and conflict studies student at Langara College, moved into a basement suite with her older sister in June. Ghani grew concerned after her landlord started setting unrealistic standards.

“My boyfriend would stay over, and it seemed like [the landlord] had a problem with that.”  Ghani said that her landlord expected her guests to leave by 10 p.m. “He’d never mentioned that before we moved in here,” said Ghani.

The B.C. Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) prohibits landlords from placing restrictions on guests in a tenant’s suite, something student renters may be unaware of.

What renters can do 

Ministry of Housing spokesperson Lindsay Byers said tenants can improve their situations with overreaching landlords by educating themselves.

“Students or others from outside B.C. or Canada seeking a place to rent here can protect themselves by becoming familiar with their rights under the Residential Tenancy Act,” said Byers.

She said first time renters should visit the tenancy branch website, where this information is available.

Parm Singh, of Dominion Law, said tenants should familiarize themselves with their rights.

“The Residential Tenancy Act is in place to protect landlords and tenants alike. Landlords and tenants may not avoid or contract out of the terms set forth in the RTA,” said Singh.

For Ghani, this advice may have come too late.

She has since moved back home, but expressed concern for students who may not have that option.

It just made me think of people that don’t have families here, and if they have to deal with issues like this,” she said.

“I just wasn’t able to deal with it anymore.”

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