B.C. Supreme Court Justice Linda Loo ordered Gordon Nelson Investments, which owns the Seafield building at 1436 Pendrell Street, to return the additional rent collected since April of last year.
The Seafield is a 14-unit heritage building, located four blocks from English Bay, where many of the tenants have lived for more than 30 years.
The landlord took ownership of the building on July 31, 2008. Six months later, the owner applied to increase the rent for 13 units by up to 73.3 per cent. The tenants opposed the rent increases because they said the statutory criteria for permitting additional rent increases above four per cent a year were not met.
A dispute resolution officer under the Residential Tenancy Act issued a decision on April 2, 2009, permitting the landlord to impose rent increases of between 15 and 38 per cent on ten units.
The tenants applied in court for a judicial review, which they won Tuesday.
The judge ordered the matter be sent back to the dispute resolution officer for a rehearing.
"I am reluctant to give specific directions, but expect that the Dispute Resolution Officer rehearing this dispute will be guided by these reasons for judgment," Loo concluded.
"It's a victory for renters," Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Herbert said Wednesday of the judge's ruling.
"If the [previous] decision was allowed to stand, it was an effective end to rent control."
"It's a good decision," Sharon Isaak of the tenants' rights group Renters at Risk said Wednesday.
Read the judge's ruling here