Tenants at a well-known high-rise in Vancouver's West End that's about to undergo major renovations say they're afraid of becoming victims of "renoviction"— the practice of evicting tenants so a landlord can demolish, renovate or sell a property for quick profit.
Residents of Berkeley Tower held a rally Wednesday appealing to the building's owner to either let them stay or move out temporarily while the property is upgraded.
The tower is 60 years old and Reliance Properties, which manages the building, said it needs major structural, electrical and plumbing work that "will make it healthier for tenants and the environment, plus ensure its longevity."
The work will take more that will take more than two years to complete and require the building to be completely gutted.
"Reliance Properties knows the lengthy and comprehensive reconstruction project is difficult news for tenants, and to reduce impacts, we are significantly exceeding what governments require of us by offering long timelines for vacating, generous compensation packages – almost double what’s required by law – and additional support relocating for those who need it," the company's CEO, Jon Stovell, said in a statement.
According to Stovell, several tenants have already accepted tenancy packages. Once renovations are complete, he said, "tenants have the first right of refusal and may come back at market rents."
But some tenants have lived there for decades and don’t want to leave a place they consider their home, despite financial compensation and extra time to move.
Renters' rights groups worry that, with many buildings in the neighbourhood of a similar age, Berkeley Tower could be a sign of more renovictions to come.