The rental situation in Burnaby is out of control. We’re living what has been described on lists as the third most expensive city to rent in for all of Canada. The prices we pay for a crappy one-bedroom or even a studio unit are outrageous.
And there are so few good listings that people are willing to look past huge red flags just in order to be able to find any place to rent.
Some landlords will dump you as a possible renter if you ask any sort of detailed question about the living conditions because they know there will be 20 other people desperate enough to take whatever garbage is given to them.
I wanted to stay in Burnaby because I work here and figured it was so close that I would save money in transportation costs (I can ride a bike to work) to offset the heinous rental prices.
And so back in 2020, I thought I had found a place in a lowrise apartment near Metrotown that was at least livable for me to pursue.
The landlord has a representative who handles all applicants and they give you forms to fill out that are filled with questions that go beyond any reasonable boundaries. Landlords don’t need to know that much personal information, but many ask anyways and we’re desperate enough to put up with it.
That’s bad enough, but after I went finished with the forms I met with the representative, who was a creep who seems to have found his calling being in charge of people’s fates.
I was told that there was a “long line” of people who wanted to rent this unit and he asked “what was I prepared to do” in order to secure the place. As a woman, I was worried he was looking for me to go on a date with him, but that’s not what it was.
He wanted money. Or as I call it, extorting a bribe from me. Apart from the usual deposits, he was looking for key money – a cash payment that he would pocket to get me to the top of the list of applicants. Although he tried to make it sound like it was a one-time fee on top of the damage deposit. But he wanted it in cash – wink, wink.
I had heard this happens but when it happens to you it’s jarring. I don’t have a lot of extra cash lying around and so I had to borrow some money from my parents to come up with the payment. It's corruption but since it was verbal and not in writing, I didn't have much recourse.
In the end, I forked over the money and got the place. But things didn’t magically get better. The building I rented it turned out to be a nightmare and so I ended up moving out a year later. I luckily found a decent place, albeit for more money, but at least I didn’t get extorted.
S. Williams, Burnaby