But I don't *want* to move.
April 13, 2012 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Am I ignoring the obvious because I don't want to move?

We rent in a great area. It's a townhouse and they allow pets.

We began noticing last summer that people would move out and the unit wouldn't be re-rented. I know they've been renovating in the past, but we're up to 10 out of 57 units sitting empty. We peered into some empty units - some haven't been touched since people moved out, others are in various stages of renovation and it's hard to tell how recent any work is.

We're in the Vancouver region where "renovictions" are a part of the lexicon. The tenancy act stipulates that the landlord needs to have permits in place before serving 2 months notice to all tenants. So far no permits have been given for our address.

I phoned the landlord and asked if he could let me know what the plan was for our complex, that was 2 days ago and no response.

Am I just being thick? My housemate thinks it's still a renovation issue, but 20% of the units empty?!? That's a big chunk of change.

I really don't want to move. :( But we will if it comes to that. Just wondering what others have experienced.
posted by Salmonberry to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not really sure what your question is. If your landlord wants to get rid of you via a renovation evictions, they will. There isn't a whole lot you can do about it unless you want to get into a legal battle with your landlord. If that happens, you will have at least two months notice. Unless you don't think you can find a new unit in two months, I'm not sure what you'd do differently if you did conclude your landlord is trying to get rid of tenants.

General rule of thumb: if you can't do anything to stop an event, and you can't do anything to prepare for the event, there's no reason to worry about it.
posted by saeculorum at 8:39 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm not 100% clear on what the question is here...

I totally get that it's frustrating to not know what's going on in the complex, but how will knowing change your decision-making process? Like, is there a benefit to looking for a new place now as opposed to waiting until you are served 2 months notice? Do you (or your housemate) not want to live in a partially-empty complex? Or are you going to stay in this complex until they tell you to leave, regardless?

Oh, or maybe you're wondering whether you should complain to a tenants' rights board or something?
posted by mskyle at 8:41 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

saeculorum's rule of thumb is rationally correct, but doesn't address emotions (and questions of housing uncertainties do indeed pull at rather fundamental emotions). So here's another rule of thumb, taking into account emotions:

If something's bugging you and all the rationality in the world won't stop it from bugging you, make a change. Just move.

Though one thing I'd do first if I were you would be to pool knowledge with other tenants, either informally (i.e. talk to them as you see them walking by) or via a more formal meeting (write a terse description of your concerns, set up a meeting place/time, and slip flyers under doors). The advantage of the latter is that if you want to fight the landlord in the event of eviction, it would help to have others to pool legal $$ with. OTOH, I get the impression that's not a direction you're likely to go.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:46 AM on April 13, 2012

Thanks for the responses - this is mostly an emotional thing. Been through a lot this year and I really don't want to add moving, but if it's a strong possibility then the more time I have to research and prepare for a new place the better. I know it's out of my hands (the joys of living in a place with crazy real estate prices).

I'm really not in a place to deal with fighting it; I'd rather just move and get on with it. But it's tough to deal with yet one more upheaval after being knocked around a bit the last few months. I guess I'm just trying to see if I'm paranoid after everything or if I need to try to be more realistic about the situation.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:53 AM on April 13, 2012

From your description, it sounds like your landlord is purposefully avoiding renovictions. You say that tenants have left and the units have just not been re-rented, and he's renovating those units on his own time schedule. If the landlord wants to renovate without permits, not leasing the units he renovates is a perfect way to avoid the issue and do work without bothering with the permit process. No, that's not legal. But it avoids the whole tenant-notification thing. He's probably trying to save money by doing the work piecemeal.
posted by juniperesque at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

The sense I'm getting from the post (and OP, correct me if I'm wrong) is that it might be hard to find a "great place that allows pets" on short notice. In a tight rental market it might take some time to find a desirable place if one has pets; more notice = more time to prepare and start looking and less need to scramble at the last minute and possibly have to settle for a place that has significant drawbacks.

(Veteran of SF area tech-bubble-era housing market here when the vacancies were less than 1% at one point.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:12 AM on April 13, 2012

It will be very difficult to do that, yes. At least the pets I have are fosters and I know if I have to give them up they will be well cared for.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2012

Could you have a friend call the landlord and inquire about renting? They pretend they are just a random person, ask if there are any units available for rent or will be coming open soon, etc. If the landlord says "No, we're about to renovate the building" that gives you a little more information (although it's not a legal notice or anything).

I totally get the stress of the "unknown", but this may be a way to get you a little more knowledge.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:40 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do talk to some other tenants. It helps to share concerns with others in the same boat.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:41 AM on April 13, 2012

Is it possible that people just aren't trying to rent any of the units?
posted by gjc at 6:18 PM on April 13, 2012

It would seem to me there are lots of possibilities (the landlord is just disorganized, or is dealing with tight cash flow and having trouble getting the units fit and on the market), but logically unless you receive some assurance from your Landlord (or even if you do, unless it's in writing, depending on how big of a jerk he/she/it might turn out to be) you should treat getting notice as a real possibility. On the other hand, this seems to me obviously not enough of a red flag that you'd want to move preemptively so there's only so much you can do about it.

You'll probably do more for your peace of mind if you stop trying to get to the bottom of the vacancies (you very well might not be able to and really, anecdotes aren't going to tell you anything) and just start putting a sustainable amount of time weekly into thinking about the contingencies and getting to know your options. I guess it depends on the market but 2 months seems like a pretty decent advance notice for a move: if you can tell yourself "maybe there's only a 20% chance I'll need to move but if it comes to that, I've done the things I can to be prepared" then you can just file it and wait and see.
posted by nanojath at 7:19 PM on April 13, 2012

Do you mind if I ask what neighbourhood you're in?

In the neighbourhoods that I've rented at, the vacancy rate is pretty close to zero and now it's easily $100-200 more per month to start a new rental agreement than if one had started renting at an equivalent unit even just a few years ago, adjusting for the 3.something% increase allowance each year.

Are you paying a ridiculously low price for your unit? If so... yeah, I'd be a bit wary that they might try to remove tenants to do a tear-down-rebuild sale. Is your building over 30 years old? But you do have the 2 months. Even here, it's possible to find a decent pet-accepting place.
posted by porpoise at 7:20 PM on April 13, 2012

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