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Developer clarifies move-out date after Victoria tenants got improper notice

Letter told residents they had less than three months to leave building set for redevelopment
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Dylan Foss outside his Vic West building that’s set to be redeveloped. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

If he can find another place in the Victoria market, Dylan Foss knows it will be far more expensive than the just over $1,000 he currently pays for the unit he’s decorated with art, in a building that’s showing its age.

While he’ll soon have to find a new home, Foss faced heightened stress this month after being told he has less than three months left in his tenancy.

Tenants of his soon-to-be redeveloped Vic West rental building contacted Black Press Media after receiving a document from their property manager on Oct. 11 stating “this notice will give you enough time to relocate, as we have set an end date of your tenancy for December 29, 2023.”

Tenants must be given at least four months’ notice when buildings are redeveloped or go through major construction in B.C.

Foss was alarmed when an Oct. 12 letter from Aryze Developments reassured tenants they’d get four months’ notice, but also said those who signed an RTB-8 form – a mutual agreement to end tenancy – would have the move-out date listed on that honoured.

Such a form was included in papers when he initially signed his tenancy agreement in 2022 and the move-out date was left blank to be filled in later, Foss said, adding he was instructed to sign the form at the time.

According to B.C.’s Residencial Tenancy Branch (RTB), a “mutual agreement cannot be used (by a landlord) to set a move-out date at the beginning of the tenancy.”

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Dylan Foss in his apartment that’s set to be redeveloped. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

“We want our time so that we can move out leisurely and hopefully find homes, but the cost of living is so exorbitantly high,” Foss said.

Aryze sent another letter on Oct. 23 saying it’s committed to providing tenants four months to move out and residents would get that official notice on Oct. 31. Tenants will be required out of the building by Feb. 29, the letter added.

“As a company, we work hard to exceed the Tenant Assistance Plan requirements in both offers of financial assistance (for rent and moving expenses), but also by offering opportunities for relocation throughout our other purpose-built rentals across Victoria,” an Aryze spokesperson said in an email.

The developer said one tenant was relocated to the company’s rental building in Quadra Village and it supported another successful application to an affordable housing program.

After initially planning to start construction in mid-2023, Aryze said it revisited the design due to interest rate hikes and increasing building costs. Some tenants moved out during the redesign process, leaving units vacant.

“Instead of leaving those homes empty for several months during an ongoing housing crisis, they were re-leased to provide temporary, short-term housing,” the spokesperson said. “This circumstance highlights the challenges of residential tenancies as it relates to development sites.”

Foss filed a complaint in mid-October with the Residencial Tenancy Branch and he remains curious to see what it determines.

The city employee was also discouraged by mayor and council’s response after he reached out to them about the document saying a Dec. 29 eviction date had been set. A day after that Oct. 11 letter went out, council was considering the project’s development permit and variances associated with the new design.

Motivated in part by Foss’s concerns, Coun. Susan Kim moved to hold another opportunity for public comment on the project, but that was defeated in a 6-3 vote.

Demolition permits are required before eviction notices can be served and Foss doubts those will be secured in time. Aryze said it had the necessary demolition permits secured in September 2022, then they were extended to February and they will be renewed once more prior to demolition next year.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Foss said on Wednesday (Oct. 25) of the Oct. 31 notice.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the updated Aryze letter was sent on the same day this paper reached out, on Tuesday, but it was sent out on Monday (Oct. 23)

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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