Happipad Spotlight on Debbie Sher
Happipad spotlights the great tenants, landlords, and property managers who care, who nurture, who grow the communities that we enjoy.
Debbie is one of a growing number of tenants who feel squeezed out of the city they call home. A few days ago, Debbie visited the humble Happipad office to set up her free account and to chat about some of her frustrations with renting. The demand for housing has created a vicious circle of escalating property prices and rents that threaten affordability for many residents.
The Okanagan region boasts some of the strongest population growth in Canada, fueled by an influx of students, retirees, and professionals. This strong population growth and hot real estate market has put a significant strain on renters, especially young families. Debbie is part of one of those families who are feeling the effects of the booming real estate market.
She currently rents a 6-bedroom house in Lake Country with her daughter, Natasha, and her two grandchildren for $1850/month, a great deal in today’s market. They were able to secure this deal because Natasha and her ex-husband moved into the home way back in 2010, when the Okanagan real estate market was still recovering from the 2008 recession. Despite living in their home for the last 7 years, Debbie and her family were recently given their notice to evict the property by November 1. The landlord, who is a US-based investor, plans to renovate the home and rent out the home for today’s market rates, closer to $3000/month.
Debbie is frustrated by the lack of communication with her absentee landlord and the difficulties in dealing with the Residential Tenancy Board. She was delighted to know that Happipad is trying to help by creating an online platform to better facilitate connection between renters and property owners.
Debbie plans to fight the eviction notice. She urges other renters to know their tenant rights, “People need to be more educated about the Residential Tenancy Act. The maximum allowable increase in rent is 3.7%/year. I’ve spoken with lots of other renters facing a similar situation – landlords kicking tenants out to raise rents by a lot. There are resources out there to help those who feel bullied.”
Debbie is most concerned about the well-being of her daughter and grandchildren. “I moved here from the Yukon to help my daughter out after she split from her husband. She’s been a stay-at-home mom since 2009 and it’s really tough to get by with today’s rents. We may have to leave Lake Country altogether to find somewhere with a more affordable cost of living, which is a shame because the children love their school.”
For now, Debbie is hopeful that services like Happipad can help her find her next home. She likes the fact that landlords can get to know her story through her Happipad profile and that she can connect with real people. “I call some rental ads and once they know we have two small children they hang up on me. I could report these landlords for discrimination, but I just don’t have the energy or time.”
Through listening and sharing stories of those like Debbie, Happipad is hoping to build a network of community-first renters and landlords. “Renting should be about people. Somewhere along the way we all developed an apathy to the situation faced by renters in our community, renters like Debbie, who have been residents of the Okanagan for almost a decade,” says Happipad co-founder Cailan Libby.
This post was written by Happipad