British Columbia

Bedbugs, mould plague Vancouver apartment block

Vancouver city building inspectors are taking a West End landlord to court for allegedly failing to fix serious problems tenants have been complaining about for some time.

Former tenant says court-ordered $5,000 payment to her ignored by landlord

Tenant Katie Berryman complained for months about a broken oven which she says was replaced with one that also doesn't work. (CBC)

A Vancouver landlord with a trail of unpaid debts and angry tenants is facing legal action from the city.

Tenants say the building at 1075 Jervis Street in Vancouver’s West End has been plagued by mould and bedbugs and has a history of shoddy repairs.

Now Vancouver’s chief building inspector tells CBC News that the city is taking the company that owns the building, Zoro Holdings, to court next month on allegations of failing to maintain the building and ignoring a string of orders to make repairs.

A brief tour of the eight-storey building revealed holes in a ceiling, mould growing on floors, and windows in one suite that won’t close.

"My oven doesn’t work and [the landlord] got me a new oven six weeks ago and it hasn't worked since installation," said tenant Katie Berryman.

The eight-storey building at 1075 Jervis has been plagued with problems for years that the landlord has not attended to, tenants say. (CBC)
Berryman said it takes months to make repairs and her tap water comes out grey.

"You don’t want to drink that," she said.

Mould and cold are problems in another apartment, according to tenant Jelger Vitt.

"On the [bathroom] ceiling there’s a mould. The landlord gave it to us like that," said Vitt "Second, we have problem with the heating. Sometimes it’s too cold."

Former resident Bettina Robertson also said mould and fungus were chronic problems while she lived in the building.

"Mould absolutely everywhere, giant mushrooms growing in the bathroom," Robertson said.

Robertson documented the conditions and took their grievances with Zoro Holdings to the Residential Tenancy Branch after the landlord refused to fumigate when she said bedbugs took over her suite,

"They delayed and delayed, and by that time I had lost most of my belongings. I was covered from head to toe in bedbug bites," Robertson said. "I didn’t sleep for weeks because of things crawling on me."

The landlord was ordered to pay Robertson nearly $5,000 for harassment, repairs and the return of her damage deposit months ago, but she has been paid nothing.  

A photo submitted during an offical hearing shows a number of problems in one apartment. (CBC)
When CBC News investigative reporter Natalie Clancy caught up with Zoro Holdings president Partap Mehta this week, he denied knowing about the problems.

"I have no complaint," Mehta said.

"How come you’re not paying the tenants who've moved out that you've been court-ordered to pay," Mehta was asked.

"I don’t know anything. I don’t believe it," Mehta said.

With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy