Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Renters News

Ten Years Means Nothing

Tenants go after landlord for $70k for mismanagement

By Downtown Eastside Collaborative


A shocking scene in one corner of the West Hotel on Carrall St. The hotel as depicted in photos, is a festering pig pen of plugged toilets, blood, excrement, garbage and rats. The photos were just too disgusting and horrifying to share with Voice readers. Besides, when was the last time you saw blood on The Valley Voice? You'll just have to take my word that you've never seen anything like it.


oday (Thursday, August 13), ninety-three tenants of the West Hotel (488 Carrall) released details of their landmark joint Residential Tenancy Complaint, one of the largest in British Columbia’s history. After months of organizing, tenants finally “served” their landlord Community Builders c/o Julie Roberts and Suzanne Moisan (management) and Navtej Bains, Sukhwinder Grewal and Amarjit Mann of #0955802 BC Ltd (owners), with the hearing package scheduled for October 5, 2015.


Tenants are seeking about $70,000 compensation from the landlord for these violations of the Residential Tenant Act:


 • 108 days of complete loss of elevator service

•  73 days of removal of front desk staff security leading to the double homicide at the West Hotel on March 14, 2015; and,

• 49 days straight without hot water.


Evelyn Brazee has lived at the West Hotel for ten years and says that everything went downhill when the new owners bought the hotel three years ago and changed the management. “Everything was nice here, everything worked; it was nice and clean. The elevator would break down periodically but they would get on the phone right away and get it fixed right away. It’s not like that now. I broke my ankle on the stairs while trying to get back to my room. The bathrooms are always broken down. The only thing they listen to is money. So we are going for compensation and hope that makes them take us seriously and fix this place up.”


When Community Builders took over in October 2014 they cut back on staff and the drug dealers outside the building moved in and squatted in bathrooms and hallways.  Tenants estimated that every night there were about thirty people who didn’t belong in the building, trashing the building and terrorizing the tenants. On March 15, 2015 a double homicide happened. Tenants are seeking compensation for the time they went without full and adequate staffing at the hotel. “I don’t care who they are” said Kelvin Solari, one of the tenants who lived on the floor where the murders happened, “but anyone here who says they weren’t scared during that time, is lying. I almost got stabbed there one night before the murders happened. The management and owners didn’t even talk to us after it happened. I didn’t sleep for three weeks afterwards.”  


Tenants are also requesting that the Residential Tenancy Branch remove the management company Community Builders Group’s self-designated status as “transitional” housing in order to stop them from operating outside of the Residential Tenancy Act. Dan Zimmermann, a West Hotel tenant who filed this application upon request of the tenants, said “Community Builders market themselves as angels, but we’ve watched thirty to forty tenants get stripped of their tenant rights and/or thrown onto the street. They think they are above the law and can do whatever they want while taking advantage of the ignorance, needs and distresses of tenants. The courts ordered them in May 2015 to stop this practice against me and now I’m working on getting legal rights recognized for ninety-two of my neighbours.”


“We are one step away from the street,” said Bruce Sauer, an eleven year tenant of the West Hotel.  “There are a lot of disabled seniors in this hotel.  These SROs are not perfect but we need them.  The owners could sell the place to an investor and then we are in trouble.  A lot of problems could be solved here if our hotel was leased or purchased by government.  Then they could put in extra money for good maintenance and a real professional management group that is accountable and gives good services.  Otherwise, we are hanging by a thread here.”  

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