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Renters in Surrey, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, deserve protection and respect: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, B.C. (May 9, 2023): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says renters in Winsome Place Apartments who have been told to accept a 40 per cent rent hike, or face the possibility of their apartments being sold, deserve some help from city hall.

“Can you imagine being a senior on a fixed income and getting a notice that tells you to accept a 40 per cent rent hike, or face being evicted when your apartment is sold,” said Annis. “That increase is 20 times the two per cent allowable increase, but the threat is legal right now. It’s a loophole that should be changed. How many people, particularly the many vulnerable seniors living in this particular building, can afford a whopping 40 per cent increase in rent? It’s unconscionable and I’m glad our city staff are looking at providing council with some options to correct situations like this. For instance, in 2018 New Westminster created rental-only zones that provide secure rentals over the long term and stability for both renters and landlords.”

Annis said she also wants the city to look at providing development incentives to Surrey’s developers in order to dramatically increase the number of rentals in BC’s second largest city, where the population is growing by more than 1,000 new residents every month.

“Surrey does well when it comes to developing market housing for families, but when it comes to rental or accessible housing we are far below the national average, and we can do better,” explained Annis. “We have some of the best developers in the country doing business in our city, and if we can work together and provide incentives, we can add more of the types of housing we need going forward. I’d also like to see how we can shorten and streamline development times. Every day that a development proposal sits at city hall without a decision adds additional costs that are passed along to buyers. We can’t say we’re for affordable housing then turn around and be one of the most costly parts of a project because we’re taking too long at city hall.”

Annis said that anyone who has elderly parents living in rental accommodation understands the stress a 40 per cent increase would cause seniors.

“Surrey’s seniors deserve better, and I think city hall can help find a solution, while getting more housing built faster,” added Annis. “Just because something is legal doesn’t always make it right, and this instance proves the point. These so-called ‘voluntary’ increases aren’t really voluntary if they’re attached to a threat that you’re going to be homeless because your apartment is going to be sold out from under you. I don’t think that’s how we should be doing business in our city.”