Posted May 7, 2021
At the end of a 90 day review of the rental situation in NB, the provincial government has failed to meaningfully address the concerns of tenant groups with no explicit recommendation for rent control or a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.
Fredericton, NB - May 7 2021
The Government of New Brunswick has released the results of its 90 day review and tenant groups are criticizing the report for failing to address urgent tenant demands.
The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights and ACORN NB have called for a moratorium on evictions for the duration of the COVID pandemic, an emergency 2% cap on rent increases, and a complete overhaul of the Residential Tenancies Act - a call supported by more than 30 community organizations.
In response, the government initiated a 90-day review of the situation facing tenants, kicking the can down the road while dozens of New Brunswickers continued to get evicted into a pandemic.
Thousands of tenants shared their stories with the government for this review. Organizations representing tenants made submissions during the review calling for a complete overhaul of the legislative framework governing residential tenancies. Demands included rent control, eviction protections, reining in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and increased investment in non-profit and cooperative housing.
The report, which makes 4 broad recommendations, largely misses the mark for tenant protections. The report, which consulted large REITs and landlord associations - many of which have been behind some of the worst eviction stories and rent increases - fails to recognize that many of these companies are in fact the problem.
“The only recommendation that we are pleased to see is the call to review the tenancy legislation,” said Sarah Lunney, representing ACORN NB. “We are calling on the government to act on this immediately.”
Tenants are also concerned that even this recommendation may not be implemented. “Premier Higgs stated at the outset of the review that there is no affordable housing crisis and later that he does not believe in rent control as a solution,” said Matthew Hayes, a tenant from Fredericton and spokesperson for the NB Coalition for Tenants Rights. “I’m worried that the government won’t follow up on this recommendation to review the legislation.”
During the pandemic, tenants spoke out about unchecked rent increases, evictions by renovation, and poor health standards. “The pandemic made a bad situation worse. It’s clear to us that many landlords have become pandemic profiteers,” said Aditya Rao, a tenant in Fredericton and a member of the NB Coalition for Tenants Rights. “The situation for tenants was already unsustainable and they have been pushed to a breaking point by the pandemic.”
Tenant groups in the province say they will continue to push for reforms at the municipal, provincial, and federal level. “Housing is a human right and it’s clear that we cannot and will not rely on landlords to regulate themselves. Something has to give,” said Jill Farrar, a tenant in Saint John and organizer with ACORN NB.
Both ACORN NB and the NB Coalition for Tenants Rights remain committed to working with the Government of New Brunswick to strengthen protections for tenants.