N.B. housing advocates not satisfied despite premier's promise to review rental situation
HALIFAX -- A promise from New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs to review the province's rental situation isn't satisfying housing advocates.
They believe people are being evicted as rents rise and they're calling on the government to put a stop to it.
"It's possible to raise rent by, really, any amount and that's why we are seeing horror stories of rent being increased by 50 per cent at a time," said Aditya Rao, with the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights.
Rao says New Brunswick is a jurisdiction where tenants have fewer rights compared to other provinces.
"Last month my mother got a notice that her rent was going to increase $350 a month," said Mel Theriault, a resident of Saint John, N.B."With COVID, there are people that are unemployed or working less. There isn't as much money coming in for a lot of people, so with the rent increases, it makes things a lot harder."
On Wednesday, the tenants' rights coalition released a letter calling for urgent help from the government.
Higgs responded by announcing a 90-day review of the rental situation in the province.
"We will be evaluating the market, vacancy rates, rental fees and trends, and the impact COVID-19 is having on all of our citizens," said Higgs on Wednesday, during the province's State of the Province address.
Some housing experts say New Brunswick's growing population could be part of the problem.
"We've seen people moving from other parts of Canada into New Brunswick and specifically into Moncton, so this increase in population does mean there is an increase in demand for housing," said Tadiwa Mangwengwende, the senior market analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
For housing advocates, the demand means change can't wait much longer.