“Renters of Vancouver” takes an intimate look at how the city's residents are dealing with the housing crisis.
“For eight years, I’ve paid all my rent and bills on time. I don’t throw parties. I literally drink tea and go to bed at 10 o’clock every night, and I’m very quiet. I’m a really respectful tenant. But after I moved upstairs in my building, the landlord started bullying me. Now, he’s evicting me.
“I’ve seen him harassing other tenants over the years, and I know he’s been taken to the Residential Tenancy Branch multiple times. He treats the building like a jail cell, and he’s the prison guard. He’s always around. If he sees anyone he doesn’t recognize, he’ll challenge them very aggressively. He doesn’t live in the building, but last night, for example, he was there until 8.30 just wandering the halls.
“There have been a couple of significant events. Two years ago, I was dating someone for four months. Every time the landlord saw him near my place, he would shout at him him, saying things like, ‘You’re living here, aren’t you,’ and ‘You need to pay more rent if he’s living here.’ We’d tell him that he had his own place on Granville, but the landlord would still hover around my suite waiting to see him. He would scream at us. I have a video recording where he threatened to physically hurt him. He was yelling at us, saying, ‘If I see you on this property again, I’ll break your neck, you fucking asshole.’ My ex was calm and collected throughout the whole conversation.
“There’s nothing in the lease that says I can’t have people to stay. I have a legal right to have visitors. But I’ve had numerous friends come over during the years just to hang out or have a coffee, and they’ll be interrogated by him.
“A month ago, I caught him peeping into my apartment. I woke up at seven in the morning to get ready for work, walked into my living room, and he was on a ladder in my second-floor window, just staring into my suite. There’ve been other examples of harassment too. Once, he invited himself over to take a ‘nap’ in my apartment, right when he was standing on my doorstep.
“I’ve had to block his phone number because he’ll call me eight times in a row, back to back. If I miss a call he’ll leave numerous voicemails. I’ve witnessed him when I’ve been home buzzing my unit seven times in a row, holding down the buzzer for five minutes straight. He was doing it just to bother me. When I’m not there, he’ll buzz my unit to try and make my dog bark, and then he’ll call me and say that people are complaining that my dog is making a noise.
“Right now, his big concern is that my boyfriend has a dog. He said that he doesn’t want to see it in the building. I’ve called the Tenancy Branch, and they told me that if I have a dog, and I’ve lived there for eight years with a pet, and I’ve paid my damage deposit, I have every right to have a visitor with a pet. I’m not breaking any rules. The only way he could challenge me is if the dog was being a menace to others in the building, or causing damage—neither of which are happening. The landlord obsesses about it. One day, he saw my boyfriend pull up at my place and his dog went into the building, and the landlord screamed at the top of his lungs, ‘You’re being evicted. I’m putting a notice on your door tomorrow.’
“The next day, his wife called me about it. I was trying to explain to them what my rights were, and that the Tenancy Branch had told me that I was allowed to have a visitor with a pet, but they said that it didn’t matter what the laws were. It was their building and they made the rules.
“When I came home, the landlord was downstairs. As I was leaving the unit, he handed me a note. I didn’t know what it was, because it was folded. I left, and as I got into my Car2Go, I opened it up. It was an eviction notice.
“Apparently one of his family members is moving into my suite. I’m positive that’s not true.
“I called my MLA, and his assistant said that there had to be a special reason why my unit would be served the eviction notice—something like it being on the ground floor for accessibility, or if no other units had become available for a long time. The last time an apartment came up in the building was just two months ago, and I don’t have a special unit.
“If I dispute it, they have to prove in a reasonable time that a member of his family is living there. But that would be pretty easy to him to make it look like that’s happening, because he’s always there, and he owns it. If he had his wife or son ‘live’ there for a few weeks, he could then rent it out to someone afterwards at market rent.
“It’s a shitty law. It’s a total loophole. I think he wants me out because I pay $1300 for a huge one-bedroom apartment in the West End. I have a great deal, but I’ve been there for eight years, and that’s what the normal rate was then—minus the legal increases. If I leave, he can up the rate to $1600 or $1700. It’s the same thing as a renoviction, and it’s happening everywhere – greedy landlords that just want people out, and hike up the rent.”More