Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Tenant Alleges Landlord Hid a Camera in Her Bathroom, Made Videos

Monday, December 19th, 2011

December 19th, 2011

 

According to a CBC news report, a tenant studying at the University of Victoria alleges her landlord used a camera hidden in her bathroom to secretly film her for years.

The case was filed in the Supreme Court of B.C.

The tenant, Devon Harrington, states in the suit she rented the basement unit from landlord Robin Mitchell and his wife beginning in August 2008.

The rent was $675 per month.

In the suit, the tenant claims she found a video camera in the bathroom of her rental recording her showering, changing clothes and even using the toilet.  This had been going on for nearly 32 months.

The tenant also claims the landlord, a senior bureaucrat in the government of B.C. who is an expert at computer software, even made videos of the secret filming and posted them on the internet and shared the videos with friends.

The tenant claims she is feeling humiliated and is a state of depression.

Harrington is suing for damages.

To discuss this, come to the Advice Forums here

 

 

What’s going on in Ontario? (Rent increases capped at 2.5%)

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

December 10th, 2011

 

 

Many of us have our roots in Ontario.  Or at least family members there.  You might even own a rental property in Ontario.

Many Ontario based landlords complain about overly tenant friendly legislation.  For example, you can’t legally charge for a damage deposit, you can’t tell tenants not to have pets, and a variety of other things.

You can read more about the Ontario rental industry at the Ontario Landlords Association at Ontariolandlords.ca

Now to add fuel to the fire, there is yet more big news coming from Ontario.

So what’s the big news from Ontario regarding rental properties?

Like here, Ontario has rent control.  This means you can only raise rents on your tenants annually at an amount decided by the government.

So what’s this ‘big news’ about changes to the law regarding rental properties there?

According to a government press release, the government wants to amend the Residential Tenancies Act.  The amendment will ‘cap’ rent increases at 2.5%, no matter what.  This is important news for landlords.

Why is this important?

Considering the 2012 rent increase in Ontario is 3.1%, and the British Columbia rent increase for 2012 is 4.3%, this cap could play a very large role in de-investment in the Ontario rental sector.

Why is this important for landlords in British Columbia?

If one provincial government can cap rents, so can ours.  Ontario could be seen as a ‘warning sign’ for BC landlords to understand and appreciate the importance of good government and not a government that grovels for tenant votes.

See here

 

The jury speaks: Allow inspectors to issue fines to property owners

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

November 29th, 2011

A terrible tragedy.   A rooming house fire resulting in the death of three men.

The fire happened at 2862 Pandora St. last December 22nd.  The rooming house was described by Vancouver official as “illegal.”

Nearly a year later, the jury recommended to the B.C. Attorney-General’s office that provincial inspection units should have the authority to issue immediate penalties to landlords through fines or tickets.  The jury also recommended it be easier for the government to shut down dangerous rental properties.

The Pandora Street house had been the subject of numerous city inspections after complaints from neighbours that males were urinating in the backyard. It contained broken plumbing, non-working toilets and illegal construction, according to evidence during two days of testimony.

The men’s deaths led to suggestions that the city and owner Choi Leong should be held responsible, as between them they had allowed the house to remain essentially in the same condition as when inspectors swarmed over it in the summer of 2010 looking for anything dangerous enough to get the power cut off.

There were many problems, including unsafe wiring, but inspectors failed to find anything in the electrical system dangerous enough to justify having the premises deemed an imminent risk to safety.

So instead of cutting off power and essentially putting the residents out on the street, the city’s inspection department began the protracted process of seeking a court order to have the rooming home closed, a process that would have likely taken two years.

Leong was ordered by the city to close down the rooming house by Oct. 31st – an empty threat that officials hoped she might accede to. Leong said she gave notice to her tenants, who agreed to leave in the new year.

Someone brought an artificial Christmas tree into the home and placed a set of incandescent bulbs on it (not LED bulbs as formerly reported) using an extension cord to bring power from a wall socket.

However, it became clear any reason to blame either Leong or the city directly for the fire disappeared with the testimony of Vancouver’s chief fire investigator Capt. Ray Bryant.

Bryant said an investigation found no fault with the house wiring in relation to the fire and that an electrical fault had developed either in the extension cord or the lights themselves, causing the tree to ignite and set fire to a nearby mattress.

The three victims had been drinking heavily in the hours before the fire and were not aroused by the smoke and flames. They died of smoke inhalation after being pulled from the home by firefighters who were on the scene within minutes of the alarm.

The inquest also heard that none of the residents had ever complained about their living conditions and city staff said the home – though in poor condition and squalid – was by no means the worst example of such housing in Vancouver. The only time any emotion entered the proceedings was at the end of the testimony of city inspector Pamela Kiselbach, who had dealt extensively with the residents and had recommended court action against Leong.

Asked by coroner Owen Court how she felt upon hearing of the fire and the mens deaths, Kiselbach said she was devastated. “I never thought there would be a fire there. I knew these people. I was their little inspector from city hall,” she said with self-mockery.

“But you’re the first one to ask me about it.”

To read the original story please click here.

Vision Vancouver promises an online rental database

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

November 10th, 2011

With elections on the way, Vision Vancouver released another piece of its election platform on Saturday.   This time,  pledging to create an online registry to track property violations in Vancouver apartments.

City Council candidate Tim Stevenson the database means property owners will no longer be able to ignore their buildings in isolation and anonymity.

“Fifty two per cent of our citizens are renters, and Vancouver tenants deserve an easy way to know the history of the building they live in, and if their landlord is responsible,” Stevenson said in a written release.

“An online database of Vancouver apartment buildings, highlighting work orders and property violations, is a simple step to empower Vancouver renters.”

The database, modeled after a successful on-line watch list created by New York City’s Public Advocate, will allow Vancouver residents to search out landlords and identify any building or safety violations issued by the City of Vancouver to specific rental buildings.

“As a renter, I’ve heard countless stories of friends who have lived in buildings with landlords who didn’t make timely repairs,” said Vision Park Board candidate Trevor Loke.

“By using the city’s commitment to … make building information available to the public online, we can provide renters with a simple tool to stay informed and avoid problem buildings.”

Civic elections will be held throughout B.C. on Nov. 19.

To read more click here

British Columbia Landlord News

Friday, October 21st, 2011

City to seek court action on illegal suites

October 21st, 2011

West Van landlord pleads unsuccessfully for more time for his tenants to rehouse

THE City of North Vancouver is headed to the Supreme Court of B.C. to evict two households from a pair of illegal suites in an Ottawa Gardens duplex.

A divided council voted 4-3 Monday night to seek a court injunction after a lengthy, bitter debate.

The illegal suites in the building on the 200-block of West Sixth Street have been on the city’s radar for more than a decade, but a series of reviews and appeals requested by owner Arnold Wallner have fended off eviction of his tenants. In March, Wallner attempted unsuccessfully to have his property rezoned.

Wallner appeared Monday to plead for more time for his tenants to find new homes. “It is not my intention to act against the city’s bylaws,” he said. “Mister mayor and members of council, I would really like to apologize for any wrongdoing in this matter. I am asking for forgiveness and I’m asking, respectfully, for more time to sort out things.”

Wallner also presented letters from his tenants, both praising him as a good landlord and arguing there were no other comparable homes in the city at the price: $790 and $820 respectively. One tenant asked council where everyone would go if all the City of North Vancouver’s illegal suites were closed.

“It is very difficult for anyone to find anything that comes close,” Wallner said. “Not by a long shot. This is a fantastic location, and in excellent condition. I spent lots of money for upgrading.”

City staff, however, said Wallner had rebuffed their attempts at inspection and said they believed the two suites did not meet the fire safety standards of the B.C. Building Code.

Wallner was somewhat evasive about exactly how much time he wanted before Mayor Darrell Mussatto pressed him to answer a yes or no question for a twoand-a-half-month extension. Wallner also admitted he was hopeful to bring the issue before a new council following the civic election in November.

“Anyone who purchases property has an obligation to understand the legal constraints on that property,” said Coun. Pam Bookham. “Mr. Wallner has indicated that he has been aware for at least 11 years that he was operating in violation of our bylaw that doesn’t allow secondary suites in duplexes. If we were to follow the logic he has tried to argue, it seems to me any number of suites, regardless of existing bylaws, ought be allowed because it provides someone with affordable housing.”

Bookham said Wallner’s appeal was simply another delaying tactic. “I’m prepared tonight to see this matter go forward to the Supreme Court,” she said.

Under questioning from Coun. Rod Clark, Wallner said he was a West Vancouver resident and had never lived in the building himself.

“Mr. Wallner lives in British Properties,” said Clark. “This is an investment for him and nothing else. He has no ties to the property and the revenue from these suites goes into his pocket each month.”

“He’s a lousy landlord,” continued Clark, who criticized Wallner harshly for ignoring fire safety standards and city bylaws, and said he was well aware of the consequences for his tenants.

“I feel badly for the tenants, I really do,” he said. “I understand what’s going to happen here. These people are going to be displaced. That’s very regrettable.

“But the city is not the one at fault here. Mr. Wallner is at fault.”

Coun. Mary Trentadue pressed staff on exactly what action the city would take. Bylaw services manager Brad McRae said the eviction would be Wallner’s responsibility and admitted he hadn’t ever been through a similar process.

“This is a human issue,” said Trentadue. “These are people who live in a home who pay modest rent. I’ve been a renter in the city, I couldn’t find a place for that price. This home has been a rental opportunity for people for 30 years, well before it became a heritage area.

“I don’t want to see this city taking Mr. Wallner and his tenants to the Supreme Court. I think that’s an absolute waste of time and money. There are all kinds of people renting homes in this city who don’t live there. Every one of us on this council knows that. Are we going to go after all these people or just Mr. Wallner?” she said.

Couns. Guy Heywood and Bob Fearnley joined Clark and Bookham to carry the vote. Mussatto, Trentadue and Coun. Craig Keating opposed the injunction.

To read the original article please click here

BC Landlord and Tenant News

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Mould, insects plague Surrey apartment building

September 7, 2011

A recent CTV report states tenants at a Surrey, B.C. apartment are not getting any help from their landlord or the government.

Kwantlen Park Manor in North Surrey has been plagued by problems with moisture and mould for years, according to tenant Sue Collard.

“Six-and-a-half years I’ve lived in this building, and I have not lived in a suite that does not leak,” she told reporters at a rally.

The property manager acknowledges problems, but says:

“I’m only the manager…go to the goddamn owners. I’ve been fighting it for the last four years myself,” he said.

The building is owned by the well-known Sahota family. In 2007, the roof of one of their East Vancouver properties, the Pandora, collapsed.

Read the CTV Report here

Message to BC Landlords – When kindness doesn’t pay (Part 3)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

How could they do this to my property?

August 29, 2011

This is a warning to all landlords in Vancouver and the Rest of British Columbia.  Although I’m in Ontario, I hope what happened to me helps others all over the country.

I was very happy to have hired property manager John Schutten.  John spoke with the tenants and managed to get Teddy and Nancy to sign a form called an N11 (“Agreement to End a Tenancy”) from the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John told me in Ontario even if the tenants sign a form saying they will leave, we needed to take it with a grain of salt because they could ignore it and continue to stay.  Both John and I thought it was likely I’d have to order the Sheriff to physically evict them from my rental property.

I knew we needed to get an eviction order through the Landlord and Tenant Board.  John attended the hearing at the LTB on May 17.  The tenants didn’t even bother to show up!  This was actually a good thing because many tenants will show up with fake maintenance claims in order to stall the whole process  and live rent free.  We were granted the eviction but couldn’t get the Order right there and then.  In Ontario you have to wait to receive the order via snail mail.

Finally May 31st arrived!  This was the day the tenants were supposed to vacate the property according the LTB Order.  My fingers were crossed they would obey the law and leave when the LTB said they had to get out!  John did an inspection and these tenants had not packed a single box!  We couldn’t consider the property abandoned so we had to take an expensive next step…ordering the Sheriff.  Off to the Sheriff’s office John went with the LTB Order in hand to book the Sheriff.  Cost?  $320!

In some places, you can wait weeks before the Sheriff’s office has time to come to your property.  Fortunately, Hamilton is a large city and they work every day of the week.  The Sheriff came and posted a letter on the door stating the tenants had 72 hours to leave and take all their belongings.  The tenants had until June 7 at 10 am to vacate.

I felt relieved this whole ordeal was about to end.  My happiness and relief ended when I thought how much money I was out dealing with the eviction process in Ontario.  The Sheriff cost over $300.  Plus the LTB cost me $170.  I had to pay John for his professional and experienced help.  I also didn’t receive April or May rent.  Now it was June and another month of no rent.  My tax bill and mortgage still had to be paid!

On the evening of June 6 (hours away from D-Day, or E-Day for eviction) I drove by my little property after work to see what might be happening.  Good news!  I saw a U-Haul truck pull up in the driveway.  It looked like they actually started moving furniture out of the house.  I saw their things all over the front yard and sidewalk.  My Lord, they were even having a garage sale!

The next day the Sheriff came.  At long last my property was ‘mine’ again.  These rotten tenants were finally gone!  I was beaming.  The smile on my face was only matched by the spring in my stride as I walked to the front door to take a look and then change the locks.

Then I went inside.  No. This was just too much….. They couldn’t have done this to me…..

Discuss this in the landlord forums here

Do Vancouver landlords discriminate?

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Or do Landlords Care About Paying Rent on Time, Not Doing Damages, and Getting Along with Other Tenants?

August 26, 2011

As reported in the Globe and Mail finding a great place to rent in Vancouver can be difficult.  It can be even more difficult if you are gay or a single parent, according to a new study.

What do you think?  Do landlords really discriminate based on sexual orientation or on being a single parent?  Or do landlords care more about ability to pay the rent on time, not doing damages, and respecting other tenants?

Read the original study here

Discuss this in our Landlord Advice Forums here.

 

 

Vancouver and all BC landlords can now access infrared technology

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

July 2011

The Vancouver Sun has a great new article on how B.C. landlords can now access infrared technology to watch tenants with the aim to use your rental as a grow-op.

Brian Goldstone, who is retired from the RCMP  says “Out in the (Fraser) Valley especially, the landlords are having a heck of a time with grow-ops.”

Read more at Infrared Technology

Discuss this at the Landlord Advice forums

 

Tenants halt the swing of the wrecking ball

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

July 2011

Property owners wanted to develop land to take advantage of new economic opportunities.  The problem is existing buildings were full of leased tenants says a recent Globe and Mail story.  This can create problems says John Crombie, a national retail director with real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

“The terms and conditions of a lease are binding on the owner of the property,” he sayss. “If a lease has been executed and a tenancy has, say, 10 more years without any termination issues, then it’s a fight. If the tenant doesn’t want to move, and refuses to play ball, the landlord can really be in a pickle.”

Read more Tenants halt the wrecking ball’s swing

Discuss this at the Landlord Advice forums