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raise the rent

Waterfront, very large 2 br, 2 bath, fp, furnished $3,000. (Last week, $1,500). By Amy Fendley What motivates landlords to raise their rents? Tenant experience, financial situation and season are just a few. But season? It’s only possible in resorts like Whistler — and, perhaps, college towns or cities holding international events — but adjusting rents according to season is not fair. In fact, according to Iver Toop, the man in charge of property use control for the RMOW, fluctuating rental rates are not only unfair to tenants, but they are also illegal, unless justifiable. "There is a big difference between raising the rent and a justifiable increase," said Toop. "There is also a big difference between short term and long term accommodation." The Residential Tenancy Act says that a justifiable rent increase is based on a calculation of increase costs to the landlord over a 12-month period. It includes increases in operating expenses such as property taxes, insurance, minor repairs, utilities and management costs. It also includes major capital expenditures, like repairs or upgrades, needed to keep the building structurally sound. The calculation also features a percentage increase to make sure landlords get a fair return on their long-term investment. Landlords are supposed to regularly revise rates to reflect market condition, although sometimes this may be done unfairly to the tenant and with no warning. A rent protection system established by the province says a landlord must give tenants three months written notice of a rent increase. This is done through a standardized form called the Notice of Rent Increase. It would seem however, that many Whistler renters do not know this form exists, mainly because they have never seen one. Toop recalls a situation a friend of his was involved in and warns tenants to review their rights, so as not to get left in the dark. "There was this guy, who was renting a suite to some Japanese students, and the other portion of the house was rented out to vacationers," says Toop. "There was one hydro meter, and the students were given the hydro bill for the whole house despite the fact that most of it wasn’t theirs. This is the stuff you have to watch out for... agreements like damage deposits, shared hydro meters and time-of-year rental rates, because you can get totally burned." Listening to a few personal experiences, and getting hands on a copy of the Residential Tenancy Act is probably the best way for Whistler renters to avoid confrontations. "The people who want to rent a unit naturally want to get a good price for it or they won’t rent it," said one renter who wished to remain unnamed. "So I guess they won’t be rented, but it’s not the money that’s the principle. There are enough people here that you don’t have to treat people this way and there are a lot of young folks in Whistler who are not getting a fair deal."

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