A 92-year-old man is being evicted from his Vancouver West End apartment, after a kitchen fire he says was caused because building management failed to supply adequate lighting.
Douglas Johnson says it all started three months ago, when the overhead light blew in the kitchen of his Coast Plaza Hotel home, where he lives with his partner Steve Wilkins.
Johnson claims the building management company initially refused to replace the light and when they did, it was not as bright as the previous one, forcing him to carry around a small lamp to help him see.
He says the fire started when he and Wilkins were cooking last Tuesday evening and turned on the wrong burner because they couldn't see the oven controls properly.
'I think it's very heartless they're throwing someone my age out, just like that'- Douglas Johnson, Tenant
"It was so dark in here, especially in the evening. By God, when I went out there....the whole place was on fire," said Johnson.
Johnson's kitchen was destroyed and three days later, his landlord issued him an eviction notice.
"I'm very worried and I think it's very heartless they're throwing someone my age out, just like that. It's very sickening that they can do those things at this stage of the game." said Johnson.
"If we didn't have any place to go, we'd be out on the street wouldn't we? That's exactly where we'd be. It's not a very nice thing to even think about, much less have to do."
Management says claims unfounded
In a statement, the building management company, Colliers International, say Johnson's allegations are unfounded and that he and his partner have been violating the terms of their lease, although they won't say how for privacy reasons.
"As a leading property management firm, we adhere to the highest industry standards and follow the law and regulatory compliance requirements. Safety of all our tenants is always our top priority," said the statement.
"Colliers followed up with this tenant several times to address his concerns. However our investigation found that his allegations were completely unfounded.
"Furthermore, this tenant has been breaching and violating the terms of his contract to a point where an eviction order had to be issued."
Tom Durning of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre says mistakes happen for everyone, including seniors.
"Some people think there should be some exceptions for seniors but then again, it's difficult to put it into legislation," he said.
"Do you let them away with more, do you let them away with less? As it stands now, there's nothing in the Residential Tenancy Act about your age, marital status, your financial status ...A lot would depend on circumstances."
Durning says many seniors do not understand the law and as a demographic, are underrepresented.
"Some of these seniors need advocacy. Over the last decade, we've lost a lot of our social programs... There's not enough advocates for them to understand the law."
Durning advised anyone with any complaints about maintenance to put it in writing to the landlord, to ensure there is a record of the complaint.
Johnson has until March 31 to dispute the eviction.