MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. -- A landlord in Maple Ridge, B.C., has removed all of the doors and most of the windows from a rental house after the woman who lives there with her two children fell behind on rent payments for July and August.

It’s been a difficult year for Jamie Hemson, who says she recently left an abusive relationship and hasn’t been able to work during the pandemic.

“We were short rent the month of July and my landlord has decided to come in when I wasn’t home and remove all of the windows, and doors, on the exterior and the interior,” she said.

When Hemson returned home last week to find the doors and windows missing, she initially assumed there had been a break in, but quickly learned her landlord was responsible.

“There was no notice, he didn’t tell me it was coming. He waited until I was gone. So, I feel very violated,” Hemson said.

With the house wide open, the single parent was particularly concerned about safety while she and her five and 13-year-old children were staying there, so she hired someone to board up the house.

“I actually had to borrow that money (to pay for it),” she said.

“I’m a woman. I don’t really feel safe sleeping with my windows and doors open,” Hemson said. 

Hemson is now securing the door frame with a piece of plywood. She drills it on from inside the house in the evenings — and must screw the plywood in place from the outside each time she leaves.

While CTV News was at the house Saturday interviewing Hemson, her landlord showed up.

“I think if she moves out it’s better and won’t give me too much trouble,” said Tiger Zhang, who admitted he took away his tenant’s windows and doors.

Under the province’s current COVID-19 State of Emergency, a renter cannot be evicted for unpaid or late rent, and must be allowed to work out a repayment plan for any money owing since March.

Under no circumstances is the landlord allowed to remove the windows and doors.

“There’s nothing in the law that allows that landlord to do so,” said Rocco Triguero’s of the Vancouver Tenants Union. “A landlord cannot destroy a door in order to make a tenant leave a premise. This is absolutely wrong.”

Zhang acknowledges he does not know the ins and outs of the Residential Tenancy Act very well and may have made a mistake.

“This case I think is really a lesson to teach me how to find the right way to fix a problem.”

Despite expressing some remorse, as of Saturday evening, Zhang had not replaced the windows and doors.

Both Zhang and Hemson say they’ve been in touch with the Residential Tenancy Branch hoping for a resolution to the dispute.

“I’m just waiting for our story to get heard and expedited with the Tenancy Branch and we’ll go from there,” Hemson said.

In the meantime, she says she’s already looking for a new place to live but hasn’t had much luck finding anything suitable so far.