Tenants of West End apartment building allege harassment from landlord

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WATCH: Tenants of a West End apartment building are sounding the alarm about unfair rental practices in Vancouver. The group is accusing its landlord of harassment and breaching tenancy legislation. Catherine Urquhart reports.

Tenants of a West End apartment building are raising the alarm and are concerned they are going to be evicted.

They say their landlord is forcing them out and they’re appealing to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to step in and take action.

Ahead of today’s hearing, a press conference was held at the office of MLA for Vancouver-West End/Coal Harbour Spencer Chandra Herbert.

Seventeen tenants of the building have filed a joint application with the branch. They claim they want to put an end to the landlord’s “continued harassment.”

READ MORE: Tenants of West End apartment building fight eviction notices

They say the landlord’s practices are not compliant with tenancy legislation.

The property, at 1168 Pendrell Street, recently changed hands. Tenants say they were asked to sign a new lease with a vacancy clause, their laundry fees went up substantially, and there are problems with heat and light in the building.

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Many residents are saying they have been handed eviction notices in the last few months.

Some of them have already left, but the remaining tenants say they are fighting the efforts to force them out and replace them with higher paying, short-term renters.

“All of our new neighbours are new to the country, they all seem to be foreign language students,” said tenant Absalon Figueroa at today’s press conference. “The building is being removed from the city of Vancouver for its long-term residents. It’s no longer going to be for us.”

Chandra Herbert says there are literally binders of evidence that the tenants had to pull together to defend their right to stay in their homes.

“That’s a lot of time, that’s a lot of effort, all to stand up to a landlord who has lost five times now in the RTB for illegal eviction attempts,” he says.

The tenants are not seeking individual compensation at this time, but want the RTB to penalize the landlord and stop further harassment.

With files from John Daly