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Downtown Eastsiders sue landlords at derelict hotels
Published Wednesday, June 29, 2011 5:11PM PDT
A group of Downtown Eastside residents are suing the landlords of two hotels for compensation for the dangerous conditions they say they've been living in.
Pivot Legal Society filed suit at the Residential Tenancy Branch on Wednesday on behalf of tenants at the derelict Wonder Rooms at 50-52 East Cordova St. and Palace Hotel at 35 West Hastings St.
"The people in these hotels have been living in conditions that are well below the standard for quite some time," lawyer Douglas King told reporters at a press conference.
"We need to send a message to the landlords that unless they take the initiative to fix those problems, they're going to have to pay out of their pockets to those tenants."
City councillors will vote Thursday on whether to file injunctions against the landlords at both hotels to force them to bring the buildings up to code. Both buildings were served with more than 20 bylaw compliance orders last year, and inspectors have reported seeing broken ladders, blocked fire exits, missing smoke alarms and leaking roofs at both properties.
Tenants have complained about bedbug infestations and inspectors have found cockroaches and rats in many of the suites.
Ivan Drury of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council says that conditions at the two single-residence occupancy buildings are making residents ill.
"Everyone I've met who lives in the Wonder Rooms and Palace Hotel complains of respiratory problems. A number of people I've met who live in the Wonder Rooms and Palace Hotel complain they throw up every morning and don't know why," he said.
So far, 10 residents have signed their names to the suit, and Pivot is hoping that more will join in the coming weeks.
King said that compensation would allow residents to replace belongings that have been damaged by water leaks and other problems, and find alternative accommodation while the landlords fix up the suites.
None of the allegations in the suit have been proven in court.