Vancouver battles: Tenants vs landlords

The Langara Students' Union has a bulletin board in which students are able to post notices searching for roommates and notifying students of vacant living places. (Ashley Legassic)
The Langara Students’ Union has a bulletin board in which students are able to post notices searching for roommates and notifying students of vacant living places. (Ashley Legassic)

Some Vancouver tenants are starting to notice issues beyond the notoriously high rental prices.

The Langara Students’ Union held an information session March 11 to inform students about what they could expect as a renter in Vancouver.

General arts student Liam Switzer found his basement suite on Craigslist, and is no stranger to issues with landlords.

“There was a bit of tension because the sink was broken and they couldn’t find a handyman,” said Switzer. “The handyman they had fixed it, but he fixed it while he was drunk and it broke again.”

Who’s responsible for what?

In an interview after the information session, Tom Durning, spokesman for the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, said landlords need to work on making the tenant feel more comfortable, and taking initiative as a homeowner.

“It’s the landlord’s house, but it’s the tenant’s home. You’re not just somebody to shuffle in and out,” said Durning. “Any of the repairs, heat, place isn’t clean enough, stuff like that, that’s the No. 1 complaint these students usually have regarding their landlord.”

Durning says it’s important for tenants to know the responsibilities

Trusting your roommates is important. Finding a fellow student may be beneficial to you. (Ashley Legassic)
Trusting your roommates is important. Finding a fellow student may be beneficial to you. (Ashley Legassic)

of the landlord before they move in.

Some of these responsibilities include doing an inspection report before you move in, and keeping up with things that need maintenance.

“If they don’t do [an inspection report] they’ve lost the right to [take] security deposits,” said Durning. “[Tenants] need to protect themselves because a lot of landlords will say ‘Hey, they’re only a student, they’re not going to spend a lot of time coming after their security deposit.’”

Although some tenants do find issues with their landlords, Studio 58 students and roommates Michael Chiem and Nathan Kay have never had a problem.

Chiem and Kay have lived in their Commercial Street basement suite since August, and say their landlords are awesome.

How to be (and find) a good roommate

One tip Durning had for students looking for a place is to know their roommate, and share equal responsibility.

“Sit down with your roommate and say ‘Here’s the deal, we all signed a lease, we’re all financially responsible.’ You can’t take off because you don’t get along or somebody’s boyfriend steals the beers.”

ashleylegassic@gmail.com

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