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Opinion: Burnaby landlord ‘squeezing out’ 84-year-old tenant with no hot water and ‘gouging’ rent hike

Burnaby senior speaks out about how she's fighting for her home
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Monica didn’t know what the term “ghosting” meant until I explained to her that this was what her Burnaby landlord was doing to her.

She gets it now and she’s even angrier about her living situation because of how the landlord disappears when she has a complaint – like there being no hot water.

Monica read one my recent columns about a Burnaby senior in his 90s who was being forced out so the landlord could raise the rent with a new tenant.

“It sounded so familiar,” she said. “My landlord is squeezing me out, but I’m fighting it.”

Monica has been living in the same suite in South Burnaby for nearly 10 years and didn’t have many issues with the landlord. But that person sold the home two years ago and the new landlord hasn’t been so kind.

With COVID-19 pushing the B.C. government to freeze rents, many landlords have been looking to find creative ways to bleed more money out of tenants. I’ve heard of everything from new parking fees to lying about how the rent freeze had already ended.

Monica says the landlord came to her earlier this year and said he was now allowed to raise rents because the government had said so (not true) and that it would be raised 9%.

“He said he needed to ‘make up’ what was lost the previous year,” Monica said. “I told him ‘that’s gouging’ but at the time I didn’t know any better.”

Monica doesn’t have home Internet and so she told a friend about the situation. She was told the rent hike was not allowed and so she went to the library to check it out.

This is what the government said about rent increases.

When issuing a new notice of rent increase, a landlord must:

  • Use the approved notice of rent increase form
  • Use the maximum amount for 2022: 1.5%
  • Give the tenant no less than three full months before the notice takes effect. For example:
  • If rent is due on the fifteenth of each month, notice must be given before October 14, 2021 and the first increased rent payment will be due January 15, 2022.

Monica told her landlord to stuff it.

That’s when her hot water started doing “weird things,” she said.

It would periodically go out – sometimes for an entire day, meaning Monica couldn’t shower or do the dishes.

So, she would call her landlord, but he never answers and wouldn’t call back for hours or even a day at a time. When she would speak to him, he’d say he was looking into it and the hot water would start working again. This has gone on for most of the year and Monica suspects it’s punishment and designed to make her want to move out.

“I’m not leaving, but this isn’t a fun situation,” said Monica, who plans on filing a complaint with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

According to Section 32 of B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining their residential properties in a state that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law.

I would say hot water is part of that.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.