'Rat poo everywhere': B.C. family disgusted by $1,600/month rental home
When Jason Jones saw a four-bedroom home renting for $1,600 a month in the midst of B.C.'s housing crisis, he figured it was too good to be true.
And after touring the Abbotsford property, located on acreage in the heart of the Fraser Valley, he couldn't believe how right he was.
"Honestly the worst (condition) I've ever seen," Jones said. "I wanted to leave right away."
What could have been a dream home for his wife and two children was actually the stuff of nightmares, complete with a mould-plagued bathroom that looks like something out of a horror movie.
One of the four bedrooms also has tell-tale signs of an unwelcome houseguest.
"There's a room with rat poo everywhere," Jones said. "Did you not vacuum before you tried to rent it out?"
The signs of trouble are even apparent outside, where there is trash strewn around among discarded tires and appliances. There is also a toppled tree near the front door and a broken staircase out back.
Jones said his family recently started looking around for a new home with more space.
Fortunately, they're in no rush, but Jones said he's worried that someone in a more desperate situation will end up agreeing to live in the property.
"Someone is in need and they're going to take it," he said. "For every one person looking, there's 50 to 100 more people behind them."
That kind of demand is being seen across the Lower Mainland, and Abbotsford is no exception. The city currently has a rental vacancy rate of less than one per cent.
When CTV News visited the rundown home on Tuesday, there were several would-be tenants at the property hoping to make it work.
"It's hard to find a house like this," Christian Castillo said. His enthusiasm faded after seeing images of the bathroom, however.
A man claiming to represent the owners of the home said he had heard complaints about the listing and would take it down. The owners, Ikavinder and Dharminder Deol, were not home when CTV News approached their estate, a gated property with a three-car garage.
In another city, the local government could force the owners to clean up the home. B.C. grants municipalities the power to order cleanings at filthy rental accomodations, but the cities have to pass a bylaw to take advantage of that power. So far, Abbotsford hasn't done so.
Instead, the city regulates fire safety and the outward appearances of property with its “good neighbour” bylaw.
“The city does not currently regulate issues such as mould with respect to the interior of the dwelling units,” city spokesperson Alex Mitchell said. “Unless it’s a health, life, safety and fire protection standard of the B.C. Building Code or the Fire Services Bylaw, the city does not regulate it.”
Mayor Henry Braun declined to be interviewed on the subject.
Provincial law requires buildings to meet safety standards, but it’s usually up to the tenant to complain. When the landlord hasn’t kept a building to standards, the tenant can apply to get a reduction in rent or a repair order.
A provincial housing ministry spokesperson told CTV News Thursday that “we are always concerned when we hear of terrible living conditions and we encourage those living in unsafe conditions to lodge formal complaints with the Residential Tenancy Branch."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Jon Woodward