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Opinion: ‘Wealthy’ Burnaby neighbours file constant complaints about renters ‘just for existing’

Renters can't even have overnight guests without a complaint to the city
A for rent sign. (via Contributed)

One thing that has become clear in all of the discussions I’ve had with renters and homeowners during the past few months writing about parking issues and tenancies is that many people who own property have little respect for those who rent.

One common comment from homeowners is that because they pay property taxes they should have more rights than renters. Other homeowners also simply can’t stand having renters in their neighbourhoods.

Both views are odious and need to stop – part of the reason why I keep writing about these issues.

The latest is from J.G., who shares a rental house with four others in North Burnaby after being forced out of a different rental after nine years in the Metrotown area.

J.G. lays out a disturbing pattern of harassment from the new neighbours, who have filed constant complaints with the City of Burnaby that are pretty much “just for existing” and due to a "hardcore hate on" for them. The problem is that the city must investigate each complaint no matter how unfounded or silly it might be.

“Our neighbours have succeeded in making us feel unwelcome in our home, in a place we thought to make part of our community,” said J.G. “We have learned our lesson: we are YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard) in a NIMBY environment. Wealthy owners only: renters not welcome here … This neighbourhood is full of expensive houses with owners, or owner relatives, living in them. We don’t own, and therefore, to be looked down on, even bullied to just go away. We don’t belong here. No one cares that we take care of landscaping, snow clearance and neighbourhood watch(ing).”

There have been a range of accusations. Neighbours accused them of operating an illegal dog kennel, which J.G. says is baloney. They accused them of running a boarding house and J.G. says it’s because they have the occasional guest staying over but the nosy neighbours watch everyone who goes in and out of the house. Neighbours have also called the city claiming J.G. was doing illegal renovations.

“Truth was, we had purchased panelling for an unfinished room and someone in the ‘hood decided, without talking to us, that we were doing something nefarious,” J.G. said. “So, we stopped putting up the panelling and left all the pink insulation exposed in the room we were trying to finish.”

One issue is that the home the group moved into had piles of garbage in the backyard and neighbours reported that. For some reason, the renters and not the landlord got tasked with cleaning things up but the neighbours filed multiple complaints that the clean-up wasn’t moving fast enough.

The list goes on and on and the process of responding to all the complaints with the city, including repeated inspections by city staff, has left the group feeling defeated.

J.G. has a simple message for the “wealthy” and “house-rich” neighbours: “Stop calling the city as a tool to constantly harass us.”

With six months to go on their lease, I somehow doubt that will happen.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.