Hello Juan, Project Manager, Reliance Properties Vancouver.
So you agree with us…. At least you send us signed documents that illuminate our understanding of the agreement. Attached here you will find a 1188 Bidwell Tenant Update. It clearly sets out a Q&A of what our agreement is. It goes on the read as the last clarifying point of the last Q&A “right of first refusal to move back into an equivalent/similar unit in the New Building. upon completion, for the same rent amount during a two (2) years term.”
We stand ready, willing, & able to move to the new building 1188 Bidwell as soon as you can come back to the agreement you drafted. However we find ourselves blocked. We are being forced to defend our signed agreement and to resist the new and warped reading that will allow Reliance to charge us a 90% $1100 rent increase.
So lets analyze the term “same rent amount during a two (2) years term”. Seems clear enough. It reads that we would pay the same rent amount for two years. So maybe the question is what constitutes the term “same rent”. For me that is as clear as anything else. We would pay the same rent and that would last 2 years. So let’s break that down even further….
*RENT* Is the amount listed on your lease. A legally enforceable document that in this case is governed by the RTB of British Columbia
*AMOUNT* In this case the amount of rent listed on the lease, also the amount taken from your bank account each month by your land-lord for rent.
With that wording we have the understanding that we would be charged the same rent amount as we were paying at 1170 Bidwell in the new building at 1188 Bidwell. That is the understanding as it pertains to the agreement being discussed here. We further state that the rent amount is defined by what is listed on the signed and legally enforceable lease, also that it is the amount withdrawn from the tenants bank monthly.
So what if there is a disagreement in the interoperation of an agreement. What if two parties covered in the agreement disagree on the wording that might seem a little ambiguous? At that point an interesting and critical bit of contract law comes into place, contra proferentem:
” jurisprudence recognizes that tenancy agreements are drafted by a landlord and that ambiguities in those agreements must be resolved in favour of the tenant because of the contract interpretation rule of contra proferentum”
Which basically sets out that the party who did not draft the questionable term in the agreement is not responsible for the ambiguity, and should not have to suffer from it.” So if there is a question because of ambiguity of what the term of “same rent” or even “same rent value” that goes to us the tenants not to Reliance Properties Vancouver.
In a recently aired news video of our situation with Reliance Properties Vancouver there is a quote from Jon Stovell that speaks to the heart of contra proferentum. Mr. Stovell gave a written statement that reads: “Though we are disappointed that some tenants interpreted our offer differently than it was intended, we can understand how that may have occurred.” With that Jon Stovell of Reliance is admitting there is ambiguity in the language. While we would state emphatically that there really is no room for ambiguity, for us it clearly says same rent, the fact that there is or could be means that it goes in our favour not theirs. The interoperation of that section of the agreement is to the tenant not the landlord.
From Jon Stovell statement to CTV News we would take acceptation to another point: “though we are disappointed that some tenants”. Lets be clear here Jon! All the tenants of 1170 bidwell read it the same way. The fact is that Reliance Properties Vancouver scared away several of the original tenants with pressure tactics, lies, and rudeness. Some of our fellow neighbours just wanted to have a life that did not include this battle for a housing rights in Vancouver and did not want to battle a billion dollar developer for the right to keep a singed agreement. They did not agree with you they just didn’t want to deal with you. They wanted a peaceful life. Those of us that remain understand their POV and respect their feelings. They are still friends and always will be. But you really can’t count on them to be allies or party to your understanding of the agreement.
So it all becomes clear. According to our signed agreement, an agreement drafted by Reliance Properties Vancouver, and with witch they secured our support for the building permit, we are entitled to pay the same rent as at 1170 Bidwell. We benefit from any ambiguous language and so if there are different interpretations of that aspect of our signed agreement it is us that would benefit, the understanding would rest on our side.