Tenant group claims Residential Tenancies Branch is pro-landlord; leaks audio from hearing

A group of tenants locked in an ongoing rent-increase dispute with their landlord says they’re questioning the integrity of Manitoba’s RTB saying they feel one its officers tried to dissuade them from moving forward. Morgan Modjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

Tenants protesting a rental increase that’s above government recommendation say they’re worried about getting a fair shot at Manitoba’s Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB).

The group of tenants has released audio of a meeting it feels shows the RTB – which is supposed to be an impartial body – favouring the landlord in an ongoing dispute.

Tenant-representative Rebecca Hume says there was a somewhat heated conversation between the group of tenants at a Langside apartment and an officer with Manitoba’s RTB.

“I think that her behaviour in that meeting was highly inappropriate and completely unprofessional,” said Hume.

Hume says she was frustrated and angered after the meeting, during which she feels the officer was trying to dissuade her from moving forward in fighting a rental increase.

That rental increase, Hume says, would displace many in the building. The recommended rental increase by the province for 2022-2023 is currently zero.

woman outside wearing red coat

Tenant-representative Rebecca Hume. (Credit: CityNews/Morgan Modjeski)

Leaders within the group representing tenants are now questioning the integrity of the office.

“I don’t think we were at all given a fair shot at the RTB level,” said Hume.

After the hearing, the group decided to release the recording in hopes of bringing attention to their concerns and what they say may be bigger issues in the agency.

“I don’t think any part of the system is working in any way that benefits any tenants or provides any semblance of rent control, or any sort of protection for tenants in the province,” said Hume.

The landlord asking for the rental increase, Onyx Properties, did not respond to emailed questions or requests for comments on Friday.

Hume says she wants to see a review done of the rental increase and all other above guidelines rental increases approved in the last year, saying while she’s prepared to navigate the system, that’s not the case for many.

“If this is what was kind of sliding through the cracks in one case, who’s to say they aren’t all being like that,” she said.

exterior of brick apartment building

Winnipeg apartment on Langside Street and Westminster Avenue. (Credit: CityNews/Morgan Modjeski)

RTB said in a statement it cannot comment on specific cases under appeal, but notes it strives to provide excellent client service and continues to seek ways to improve the information and communication provided to clients.

The statement explained regulations work to balance the competing objectives for tenants and landlords in a way that enhances the effectiveness and stability of the rental housing market.

It claimed those regulations protect tenants from unwarranted rent increases, and that any above guideline increase needed to be cost justified, with each matter “thoroughly reviewed” by the province.

The dispute is ongoing. The next hearing is set for March 15.

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