Property management company attempts to increase rent
WINNIPEG -- People who rent apartments weren’t expecting a rent increase for a while.
So when Emily found a letter under her door from Shindico Realty saying a rent increase was still in effect – she was surprised.
“They’re charging the rent increase on April 1st,” said Emily who rents an apartment from Shindico. “They’re going to give us a credit in May, but still raise it for April.”
Last week the province announced there would be a freeze on rent increases in the province to provide relief for those feeling financial pressure.
In the letter given to Emily, Shindico said it was going forward with the increase because the Residential Tenancies Branch had not published guidelines explaining how landlords are required to administer the adjustment.
“To me, it seemed like a way around it,” said Emily. “Like they were finding a bit of a loophole in the ruling that was given.”
Shindico said it consulted with the Residential Tenancies Branch and said it was told to go ahead with the increase and reimburse tenants in May.
Shindico says undoing all the increases isn’t easy.
“You’ve got to go to the bank, and manually make each of these adjustments for each one of your tenants in a really short period of time,” said Justin Zarnowski, general counsel for Shindico Realty.
Premier Brian Pallister was asked about property managers who choose to go ahead with the increase.
“Inappropriate,” said Pallister. “The rent increases that started at the start of the year were the only ones that were allowed as far as I know. So we’ll look into it.”
The premier's words resonated.
In an email sent to CTV News shortly after the Premier’s news conference – Shindico said:
“In light of revised guidance from the RTB that was issued today, Shindico has decided to change each entry for pre-authorized debit tenants where there was an April 1st rent increase in place,” the emailed statement said. “We decided it was the right thing to do given the revised direction from the RTB.”
A spokesperson for the Residential Tenancies Branch told CTV News:
“Rent increases are suspended from April 1st until May 31st to support tenants experiencing economic hardship due to COVID-19,” the spokesperson said, adding, “The RTB was responding to questions from landlords and tenants as new measures were being put in place. We are following up to clarify any confusion.”
Some clarity is a relief for people like Emily.
“Increasing it is definitely going in the wrong direction,” Emily said.