British Columbia

Tenants cry foul over Olympic eviction

Some East Vancouver tenants say they are being evicted so their landlord can make more money on rents during the 2010 Winter Games.

Some East Vancouver tenants say they are being evicted so their landlord can make more money during the 2010 Winter Games.

Susan Brown is one of eight tenants at a Mount Pleasant house who received eviction notices two weeks ago. When she moved into the house in July, Brown said, she signed a lease that was to end Jan. 31, with the understanding it would be extended when it came due.  Instead she got a notice saying she would have to be out by the end of January, just two weeks before the Vancouver Olympics begin on Feb. 12.

The notice also said the owner needed the house for immediate family.

But the tenants' quick search of the web found the house listed as an Olympic rental, with the owner asking nearly $12,000 a week in rent. In comparison, the tenants have been paying about $500 a month each for rent.

Brown, who is studying for a master's degree at Simon Fraser University, said the eviction has thrown her life into turmoil.

"What it means right now for me is I'm just in a really precarious position. ... I'm having to put some of my research and plans on hold in order to find a good place to live," she said.

Brown and the other tenants say they believe the eviction is illegal, because the owners appeared to have lied to them on the official eviction notice.

Laura Track, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, said it is unclear if the eviction was illegal, but the tenants could fight it through the provincial Rental Tenancy Branch.

"What's disturbing about this is the reason given for the eviction is so clearly dishonest," Track said.

She said it is also likely the owners are violating the city's own rules on Olympic rentals, because the home will be occupied in the month leading up to the Olympics.

The tenants said they need to get on with their lives and find places to live, and they don't plan to fight the eviction.

"I'm just feeling really vulnerable, violated, lied to and really stressed out," Brown said.

The situation shows why the B.C.'s residential tenancy legislation needs to be strengthened to protect renters from evictions in these situations, Track said.

"My sense is this is just the tip of the iceberg," she said. "Here we are at the beginning of December, and this is when I imagine these situations will really start to ramp up."

The homeowners did not return calls for an interview.