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Opinion: Burnaby ‘slumlords’ accused of pushing renters out to skirt ground-breaking tenant bylaw

Tenants living in terrible conditions forced to move out
Ugly holes in the ceiling that the landlord won't fix.

Burnaby renters have responded to my recent column about a Burnaby landlord who does decorative fixes, but is ignoring giant holes in the ceiling and other issues.

The person who let me know about the issues couldn’t understand why a landlord wouldn’t fix such major problems in a building they owned.

Sarah thinks she has the answer.

Sarah (not her real name as she fears retribution from her landlord) gave me a theory that relates to the Burnaby rental building she lives in. I’m not naming the building because Sarah isn’t letting her be named in relation to an article.

Back in late 2019, the City of Burnaby passed its tenant assistance police (TAP), touted as being the best in Canada for protecting tenants displaced when a rental building gets redeveloped into an entirely new building.

Sarah says her building is slated to be redeveloped one day and that the landlord is doing everything it can to push out tenants well before the TAP would kick in – meaning fewer tenants the owner would have to support.

“What we actually believe is happening is that the developers are hoping to reduce the number of tenants who qualify for relocation to the new purpose-built rental towers as per the new city bylaw,” Sarah said. “The bylaw guarantees that tenants displaced by developers are rehoused in a similar, new unit at the same price. The loophole left is that anyone who moves out before we are demovicted will not qualify for this entitlement. So in this building, we are faced with the choice to tolerate the intolerable living conditions in hopes we will be relocated without increasing our rent or, if we choose not to risk our health, we are left in the same position as everyone demovicted from this area before the bylaw was passed. We have also received erroneous notes stating their records indicate unpaid rent and warning us to either correct the record or pay within 24 hours or have an eviction notice issued.”

It’s scary to think that people are being victimized by a loophole in a policy that has great intentions and is already being used in some situations. From what I'm being told, some landlords are looking to push out people even before they apply for permits to redevelop their properties.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.