Our victory is a victory for all residents living in supportive housing across the province.
We filed complaints about the restrictive guest policy in 2017 and the Portland Hotel Society responded by arguing that the 844 Johnson St building was a “housing-based health facility” in an effort to exempt the building from the Act. The Arbitrator from the Residential Tenancy Branch writes in his July 21, 2017 decision: “When I look at the tenancy agreement together with the circumstances around when the facility was purchased by the Province and created by BC Housing I find that there is no evidence presented to me that the residential property could be considered primarily a health facility. I find that the subject property is a residential property containing rental units, as defined under Section 1 of the Act which provides access to support and medical services.” The Portland Hotel Society appealed this decision, taking it to the Supreme Court for a Judicial Review. This appeal has been dismissed by Judge Sharma.
Judge Neena Sharma writes in her ruling, “the petitioner (PHS) has not provided any justification of why tenants who are being given a social benefit of below market housing, in an effort to try and stabilize their living situation, ought to be given less legal rights than tenants paying market rates in a residential building operated by a commercial entity.”
We deserve rights under the Residential Tenancy Act and the same standard of living as in any other residential building. We hope that residents in supportive and low-income housing across the province recognize that they have the same rights as any other tenant, and that they can demand those rights.