British Columbia

Arrest warrants issued for Downtown Eastside landlord

Advocates for tenants in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say 10 arrest warrants have been issued for a notorious landlord.

George Wolsey owes residents more than $18K, failed to appear in court

Arrest warrants issued for landlord

9 years ago
Duration 2:39
George Wolsey owes Vancouver tenants more than $18,000

Advocates for tenants in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside say 10 arrest warrants have been issued for a notorious landlord.

The Pivot Legal Society says George Wolsey owes $18,163 awarded to residents of the Wonder Rooms SRO by the Residential Tenancy Branch this spring, which they say he has made no effort to pay back.

"We kept hearing stories of bedbugs, cockroaches, holes in the wall, sinks and plumbing not working for weeks at a time, one shower being shared in the entire hotel with dozens of people," said Pivot Legal Society lawyer Douglas King.

The organization also alleges Wolsey has failed to appear at several court dates, and they’re urging the landlord to turn himself in.

King says the Pivot will be putting up wanted posters in the neighbourhood.

"We decided we wanted to make these wanted posters and put them up in the neighbourhood so not just landlords in the neighbourhood and tenants understand that there is some resolution to this case [but] we want to bring this landlord to justice."

In 2008, CBC News exposed Wolsey for forcing tenants to fill prescriptions at his pharmacy or be evicted.

On Wednesday, B.C.'s minister responsible for housing said the province is not considering changes to the Residential Tenancy Act.

"The process is effective. However, as with any arbitration process, there will be situations where one of the parties will need to pursue enforcement through the court system," Rich Coleman said in a statement emailed to CBC News.

"Municipalities also have a role. It is the local government that can establish standards of maintenance bylaws that are enforced through the local government’s own bylaw enforcement procedures."

The City of Vancouver managed to get an injunction forcing Wolsey to repair two hotels, which he sold last year.

"I think it's very important that the city is clear that we are absolutely prepared to go to court, get that injunction and get the repairs done" said Coun. Andrea Reimer.

No one answered the door when CBC News visited Wolsey's home in Langley, B.C. on Wednesday.

Once Wolsey has been served with the arrest warrants, he has seven days to turn himself in or face arrest.