Saint John woman looking for new place after landlord more than doubles rent, stops including utilities

Rebecca Train has been in her apartment for the past five years, but now the single mom is searching for a new place to live after receiving notice that her rent would be increasing by nearly $1,000 a month. 

"It's going from $850 with heat and hot water included to $1,800 with nothing included, and I was completely shocked," says Train, "I thought it was a typo, to be honest."

The notice says that the new rent takes effect at the start of December and that a new contract will need to be signed.

Train says originally, when her building was purchased, the landlord gave her a 30-day notice to move.

"The Rentalsman advised a 90-day notice would have to be served, so (the landlord) the following month provided a second 30-day notice and was again advised by the Rentalsman that 90 days would have to be given," says Train.

"Then there had been no communication since July until yesterday when I got the rent increase."

Train received another notice this morning – a notice of complaint which states she was supposed to vacate the premises as of today – she says she's been assured by the Rentalsman that it's not valid and she does not have to leave.

"It's stressful – I work from home, I'm a parent. My daughter is concerned about having to move so it's a lot of worry."

New Brunswick's Residential Tenancies Act does not restrict the amount that a landlord can raise the rent, which has led to calls in the province to introduce rent control and those calls are only growing louder.

"This is essentially an eviction notice to the tenant," says spokesperson for the NB Coalition for Tenants Rights Matthew Hayes.

"But it wouldn't count on New Brunswick Statistics on evictions because there's no official eviction notice; it's just kind of an easy way for a landlord to end a relationship with a tenant."

The province did undertake a 90-day review of the rental situation in New Brunswick which was completed in May and included a list of recommendations, one of which included "modernizing the Act to provide better protections against unreasonable rent increases."

In a statement to CTV News, provincial minister Bruce Fitch says that changes to the act are being brought forward to support this recommendation this fall, though there were no additional details on what form that would take.

"The government endorsed all recommendations and is diligently working on all of them to help address issues on the long range," says Fitch in the statement.

"Tenants who feel unfairly treated regarding a rent increase should submit their case to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal."