‘Greed eviction’ landlord must be stopped: West End MLA

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Matt Kieltyka/Metro Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert joins residents of Hofmann Manor in Vancouver Sept. 10, 2014 to talk about alleged illegal rent increases and eviction attempts by the building’s landlord.

New landlords are making life a living hell for residents of a West End rental building as an MLA calls on illegal evictions and rent increases to stop.

Plan A Real Estate Services Ltd. took possession of 1168 Pendrell St., known as Hofmann Manor, Aug. 5 and residents allege they’ve since been threatened with an illegal 30 per cent rent increase, unlawful inspections, and a barrage of eviction notices for alleged breaches of material terms (such as not having carpet in the bathroom).

For example, one resident was served an eviction notice for living with an illegal tenant: her husband.

Residents have been told to get rid of their bicycles and have also had their laundry costs increased from $1.75 a wash to $4.50, and $1.50 to use the dryer for 60 minutes to $4.50 for half an hour.

A single load of laundry now costs residents $13.50.

Sixteen separate tenant notices have been issued to residents from Aug. 6 to Sept. 5.

“We come home and almost every day there is a new notice posted to our door,” said Absalon Figueroa, a resident at the building for four years who received three eviction notices in one week. “We feel the new landlords are abusing their position of power with the tenants to try to intimidate us. They want us to move out and they’re pretty much stopping at nothing.”

Another resident, Brandi Ross, claims she was handed an eviction notice for not having tenant insurance even though she showed Plan A proof of her insurance.

She, and other residents, have been offered new short-term leases with non-negotiable clauses to vacate at the end of the term.

“If we all did not take a careful look at what we were signing, we’d all be moving out New Years day,” she said. “What they’re doing is illegal and needs to be stopped.”

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert has vowed to help the residents fight their landlord at the Residential Tenancy Branch.

“What this is is a greed eviction. It’s just pure and simple about money,” said Chandra Herbert. “This isn’t a renoviction, which was talked about all the time in the media. This building was renovated four years ago. The residents all pay market rent, they’ve all paid their annual rent increase every year. We’ll fight it as long as we have to.”

The city is also keeping a close eye on the situation.

Plan A was served legal notice by the city Sept. 3 after being found to be illegally renting units in the building out for less than 30 days, through the popular online peer-to-peer accommodation website Airbnb.

Chandra Herbert accused the landlord of trying to turn the rental building into “a kind of Airbnb mini-hotel” to maximize profits.

“It’s an unacceptable situation and we don’t want to see people be put through this,” said Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs. “We’re not interested in seeing tenants be dislocated and seeing this kind of pressure and intimidation and uncertainty. It’s just wrong.”

Metro contacted Karen Ho, the building’s property manager and listed principal of Plan A, but she claimed she “just works for the company” and could not comment.

After more attempts to contact the landlord, Plan A Real Estate Services claimed its director, Anoop Majithia, was out of the country on business and not available for interviews.

The company instead provided a written statement saying Plan A “respects the rights granted to the tenants” but also “rightfully expects tenants to fulfill their lease obligations.”

Plan A will seek resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch “in cases where non-compliance has persisted,” according to the statement.