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Opinion: Crooked Burnaby landlord tries to jack 88-year-old man's rent 15% during freeze

B.C. has frozen rents for 2021 and limited them to 1.4% in 2022
A for rent sign. (via Contributed)

Police have often told me that scammers like to prey on older seniors, say 75 years and up, because some people get a little more confused as they age – especially if their hearing is going.

Apparently some landlords like to prey on seniors as well.

I spoke with an 88-year-old senior named Antonio who lives in North Burnaby. He was frustrated because his landlord was trying to hike the rent despite B.C. currently having a freeze on rent increases until Dec. 31.

The landlord gave him a notice that Antonio would have to pay 15% more per month starting Sept. 1.

Except Antonio had no idea about the freeze on rents because he doesn’t really know how to use the Internet.

“I don’t have much family,” Antonio said. “My wife died a few years ago and I don’t know who else to talk to about this. It seemed like a lot of money to try and increase the rent. I’m on a fixed income and don’t have much wiggle room. This just isn’t right.”

Antonio, who lives in a basement suite, is correct – this just isn’t right.

“The rent increase freeze has been extended for annual rent increases until December 31, 2021,” reads a post on the B.C. government website. “Annual rent increase notices issued with an effective date after March 30, 2020 and before Jan. 1, 2022 are cancelled. If a landlord does collect the increased amount during the period that rent increases are not allowed, the tenant can deduct the additional amount from future rent payments. Landlords cannot combine 2020 rent increase and 2021 rent increases. The maximum rent increase amount for 2022 will be published in late summer.”

Even if there wasn’t a rent freeze, B.C. has set a limit of 1.4% for rent increases – 15% is ludicrous.  

Look, I don't know if it's fair to still prevent landlords from raising rents, but since there is a freeze, landlords must comply.

So that’s one issue. I let Antonio know about the rent freeze and said he should try the library or a seniors advocate to get them to print out the information to show his landlord.

Antonio doesn’t have access to a printer either so hopefully he’s able to get this information printed off to educate the landlord, who should really know better.

My guess is the landlord does know but is hoping that this poor, sweet elderly man won’t know any better.

It’s disgusting.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.