Letter: Dear landlord, you've turned our Burnaby building into a slum


*EDITOR'S NOTE: The letter writer is not the same Paul Holden who is CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade.

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Dear Landlord:

You are a developer whose plan is to demolish our building in the Metrotown area and replace it with condo towers. As you know, that will leave the current residents with nowhere to live. In the time you have owned the building, just over three years, the conditions have declined substantially. This used to be a nice building.

Now it is a slum building.

We didn’t used to have bedbugs in our building. But now we’ve had multiple occurrences, and each time you fail to do a sufficiently comprehensive extermination to ensure the problem doesn’t come back. We didn’t used to have roaches, but in recent months they’ve been showing up regularly.

We didn’t used to have problems with the fire alarms. But we’ve had 11 false alarms, at all hours of the day and night, since the beginning of 2019.

This is not only a nuisance to residents of the building, and a distraction for Burnaby’s fire services, but a serious public health risk.

Residents have become accustomed to false alarms, not bothering to evacuate the building. Your failure to fix the source of the problem has resulted in complacency regarding fire alarms. Should there ever be an actual fire in our building, your negligence in failing to repair the fire alarm system will lead to more deaths than otherwise would occur if there were a working fire alarm system.

There never used to be trash accumulating around the dumpster in the basement. There never used to be any broken exterior door locks, which are either impossible to unlock, or impossible to lock properly. There never used to be dirt accumulating on carpets and stains on walls. But since you took ownership of the building, these problems have multiplied.

The residents have raised these issues with you and your staff, but you have refused to address them.

I never thought, as a middle-class person with a good job, that I would wind up living in a slum building with bedbugs and a non-functioning fire alarm system. But here I am.

I understand that since your long term plans don’t include managing a rental property, that you have no incentive to maintain the building.

However, your lack of proper maintenance and failure to comply with the terms of the lease, have caused substantial nuisance to the residents as well as reduced the enjoyment that we are entitled to as tenants.

It would be wrong if you were rewarded for your actions by receiving the building permits you seek from the City of Burnaby. Instead, the province should step in and expropriate the building with the purpose of maintaining it as affordable rental accommodation.

This would provide an appropriate punishment and an incentive to other developers in the Metrotown area, to properly maintain their rental properties in a livable state. Given the extent of the housing crisis in the lower mainland, and the brazenness of how you have allowed our building to decline over the past three years, I do not think this is an extreme proposal.

Paul Holden, Burnaby

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