A pair of Vancouver residents is preparing to take their landlord to the Residential Tenancy Branch once again after receiving a fifth eviction notice in just six years.
Dave Brighton and Antonia Allan have lived in two of seven units of a Coal Harbour boarding house-style home for more than a decade.
In 2013, landlord Brent Wolverton issued a notice to the six tenants living in the house. He claimed he wanted a property manager to move in. The Residential Tenancy Branch ruled in favour of the tenants.
The following year, just Allan was threatened with eviction but the Residential Tenancy Branch again ruled in her favour.
December 2018 saw yet another eviction attempt, which was thrown out due to a technicality. Another notice was left at the house days later.
“I’m decorating my tree and there’s a knock at my door and the next thing I know, I’m standing there with an eviction notice and Merry Christmas to you too,” explained Brighton.
The retiree said he feels extremely stressed by the situation and is constantly worried about having to find a new place to live in a city that is unaffordable to him.
“There’s nowhere to live, there’s nothing available,” Brighton said. “If you do find something it’s $1,500 or $1,800 a month, which is what I make on an old age pension.”
A 2017 order issued by the City of Vancouver listed several problems with the building. The fire escape at the rear is in such poor condition, tenants can’t even use the third floor. The garage and rear stairs are also in disrepair and require permits to fix.
Still, in the latest eviction notice, the landlord claimed his adult children want to live there.
“Recently, with young adult children who want to live downtown, we have made the decision to remove the house from the rental market and have it occupied by family, which is our right to do,” Wolverton wrote in a statement to CTV News Vancouver. He did not explain why they could not occupy empty suites in the home.
Area MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is aware of the situation and said he believes the landlord is “abusing” the process.
“You can't have it both ways. You can't say, ‘I want my son to live there, but it's in such horrible repair no one could live there’,” said the politician.
In March 2019, the Residential Tenancy Board appeared to agree.
“I find that the landlord has not met their burden of proof to show that the two sons will be occupying this home,” the arbitrator wrote.
Brighton and Allan said Wolverton owns four buildings on the corner of Melville and Bute. They said one of the houses is currently unoccupied and they believe Wolverton wants to board up their house as well.
“It’s just harassment at this point,” said Brighton.
Despite the Residential Tenancy Branch rulings, the landlord did not commit to allowing Brighton and Allan to remain in the house.
“We regret that the tenants and ourselves are being dragged through this by the Rental Tenancy Branch. We wish there was a better way. We are not acting with malice or any ill intent towards the tenants. We simply want our home back and are now feeling taken advantage of,” said Wolverton in a statement.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing was contacted about the latest developments.
“While the Residential Tenancy Act does not specify a limit to the number of times an eviction notice can be served, tenants have a right to be free of harassment and a right to peace, quiet and privacy in their homes,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the director of the compliance unit will be investigating.
The tenants want a more permanent solution.
“I’m hoping that they’re going to change the law so that this guy is not allowed to do this to people over and over and over,” Brighton offered.