CBC New Brunswick: Tenants fear eviction, according to report

Posted on November 19, 2021

Many tenants in New Brunswick fear eviction, according to a report released Thursday by ACORN NB, an organization that tackles social issues for low and moderate income people. 

ACORN surveyed 169 renters for the report, "NB Renters at Risk: The Lack of Eviction Protection and Housing Insecurity." It posted about the survey on its website and social media, inviting renters to fill it out.

More than a third said they'd been threatened with eviction by their landlord, and almost half said they are less likely to ask for repairs for fear of being evicted, said ACORN spokesperson Jill Farrar.

"We found that the current tenant laws in New Brunswick are a leading cause of the housing crisis," she said. 

"People are needlessly displaced, forced to pay rising rents they can hardly afford, and they have to live in substandard housing."

Farrar said her group conducted the survey because it felt the report called "Review of the Rental Landscape in New Brunswick," which was done by the province last spring and surveyed more than 4,500 tenants, didn't go far enough in discussing evictions.

"We noticed that they left out some important questions about evictions specifically," she said. "And so when they released their results, they left out that a lot of people in New Brunswick are having problems with renovictions and evictions."

According to ACORN's report, the lack of eviction protection contributes to all kinds of problems for renters. 

Of the respondents, 20 per cent said they had been harassed by a landlord, and 44 per cent said they had issues getting repairs done. 

Jennifer Vienneau, a spokesperson for Service New Brunswick, said the Residential Tenancies Act does offer protection for tenants against rent increases and eviction, when these are used as retaliation for complaints.

"Tenants subjected to such retaliation are encouraged to contact the Residential Tenancies Tribunal promptly," Vienneau said.

But Farrar's group wants the act amended to provide greater protections.

"The Residential Tenancies Act is more of an outdated set of guidelines, rather than a set of rules and laws to follow," she said. 

Enacted in 1975, Farrar said, it's in need of a substantial update. 

"[The Act] leans very heavily towards landlords rights and development companies who own buildings, rather than towards the tenants," she said.

"During the pandemic and ongoing, the rents have risen at an unprecedented rate here in New Brunswick, and there are still no rules limiting the increase, even during the pandemic."

According to Service New Brunswick, tenants can be evicted for not paying rent, or if they have been served notice of termination and have not left the building. 

In its report, ACORN calls for three things: rent control, eviction protection, and an overhaul of the Residential Tenancies Act.

Last week, the province introduced legislation that would ban rent increases in the first year and restrict price hikes to once a year after that – but didn't implement rent caps.

Instead, the amended legislation increases the authority of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal to review all rent increases.

Article by CBC news

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