British Columbia

Tenants facing renoviction worry about becoming homeless

Residents of the Pinecrest Townhouses complex were served renoviction notices last Wednesday. There is an extremely low vacancy rate in Prince Rupert (less than one per cent) and most of the affected families simply can't afford similar homes in town.

Residents of the Pinecrest Townhouses in Prince Rupert were served eviction notices on Feb, 26.

Deborah Gray speaks at a meeting of Pinecrest tenants on March 5. Residents of 29 townhouses in the Pinecrest complex were served eviction notices on Feb. 26. They have until June 30 to vacate their homes. (Matt Allen / CBC News)

Dozens of families in Prince Rupert worried about becoming homeless by the beginning of summer met on March 5 to find out what, if any, options they have.

"I'm really upset. I'm looking at possibly having to split up my family so that there's roofs over their heads," said Jennifer Quick, a resident of the Pinecrest Townhouse complex located on the east side of Prince Rupert.

"There's no market in Prince Rupert for us to move to."

Quick, along with other tenants from the complex, received an eviction notice from the Pinecrest landlord — a numbered company listed as 1232949 B.C. LTD. —  on the evening of Feb 26.

The residents have until June 30 to move out. 

"I don't sleep at night," said Quick. "I work a 12 hour shift every day and I have to find a place to live in the meantime."

Residents of 29 townhouses on Prince Rupert's east side were served eviction notices on Feb. 26. The notices cited comprehensive interior and exterior renovations as the reason for the evictions. (Matt Allen)

Poverty law advocate Paul Lagace, the meeting's organizer, told tenants the new owners are Steven Rodrozen, an interior designer and his business partner, Avichai Shacar, both based in Vancouver. The notice cited a number of interior and exterior renovations to the three bedroom units as the reason for the eviction notice.

"The renovations are too comprehensive to allow people to stay," said a written statement from the owners that was distributed at the meeting. "The presence of toxic components and the extent of required work means continued occupancy would endanger the well-being and health of residents."

About 35 tenants gathered at Fisherman's Hall in downtown Prince Rupert to discuss their legal options and next steps.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, Prince Rupert councillors Nick Adey and Barry Cunningham and the legislative assistant for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, Joseph Jack, also attended the meeting.

"You have to do what's right for you, and we will support you," Lagace told the group. 

Poverty law advocate Paul Legace speaks to tenants of the Pinecrest Townhouses complex in Prince Rupert. Twenty-nine of the tenants were served eviction notices for renovations and will have to vacate the complex by June 30. (Matt Allen)

Lagace, who has assisted hundreds of residents with housing disputes, said the city currently has a vacancy rate of less than one per cent, which means finding housing will be next to impossible for all of the families, if they are evicted at once. 

Further complicating the matter is the fact that most of the people who live in the complex are lower income families who make just enough to get by but not enough to afford expensive rental costs in Prince Rupert, which range from $1,700 - $2,000 for three bedroom units. 

The average $1,000 rent at Pinecrest is ideal for someone like Quick who supports her family on a single income. 

"I just can't afford to pay the prices that are out there," she said. "So, I'll just be living in my vehicle, because that's the way things are looking right now."

As a result, not only would it be hard for these families to find housing, they wouldn't be able to afford the high rents they would be forced to pay on the off-chance they did.

Jennifer Davidson speaks during a meeting of Pinecrest townhouse tenants on Mar. 5. (Matt Allen)

"These folks work hard, they're hardworking, they're the backbone of the community and they have nowhere to go," Lagace said. "... There's nowhere to go in Rupert. There's nowhere to go in Terrace. There's nowhere to go in Smithers. There's nowhere to go in the region."

During the information session, Lagace answered questions about the notices and gave an update on communication he's had with Randall North Properties, the managers of the property.

The tenants have until March 20 to accept a mutual agreement offer that would provide three months rent and the last month free, as long as they vacate their homes by June 30. If the tenants choose not to accept the offer, they have until March 30 to dispute the notice.

Lagace said at the very least, he hopes that the eviction notices can be staggered, so that there won't be so many people stuck without homes at the end of June. 

CBC has reached out to Randall North Properties for comment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Allen

Associate Producer

Matt Allen is a journalist with CBC in Prince Rupert, British Columbia

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