"This is clearly an unlawful behaviour by the landlord," tenants group says
A property manager in Victoria, BC admits he gave a tenant an eviction notice even though he knew full well that evictions in the province have been banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Yeah, I was aware of it,” property manager Michael Ring told PressProgress.
Asked if he’s concerned that serving an eviction notice in the middle of the panic might violate BC’s law banning evictions, Ring offered a blunt response: “Let the Tenancy Branch get in touch with me and tell me that.”
Patrick, an unemployed renter who had been due to start a new job on April 6, provided PressProgress with a copy of an eviction notice he received on April 13.
“I am hereby giving you 10 days notice to move out of the rental unit,” reads the notice signed by Ring. It demands payment of outstanding rent by April 24, 2020.
“You May be EVICTED if you Do Not Respond to this Notice,” the form reads. “You have (5) days to pay the rent or utilities to the landlord or file an application for Dispute Resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch.”
“In 20 plus years, I have never been late,” Patrick pointed out.
Ring said the owner of the property asked him to serve the eviction notice so he could create a paper trail to evict Patrick if the rent for his apartment unit remained unpaid after the eviction ban is lifted.
“I served the eviction notice to put it on his file to indicate when all this smoke clears that if he doesn’t intend to pay that rent then I will evict him when I’m legally apt to do so,” Ring explained.
“He’s the only one who didn’t pay his rent,” Ring continued. “He made no effort at all … He gave me a note saying he was applying for government help.”
“I’ve told the tenant outright that the eviction notice doesn’t mean anything.”
Whereas some provinces like Ontario still allow landlords to serve eviction notices despite suspending eviction orders and hearings, the BC government’s rules state: “Notices to end tenancy cannot be given for any reason during the state of emergency.”
“This is clearly an unlawful behaviour by the landlord,” Mazdak Gharibnavaz, a steering committee member of the Vancouver Tenants Union, told PressProgress.
“The notice has no force or effect, and the tenant should ignore it,” he added.
“In fact, you can’t even download this form from the government website anymore. The landlord must have saved it on their computer for future use when it was still available.”
Patrick told PressProgress he wrote his landlord on April 9 with a partial payment of his rent and explained he was in the process of applying for the BC government’s Temporary Rental Supplement.
Patrick supplied PressProgress with a document indicating he applied for the supplement on April 10.
According to the BC Housing website:
“Once an application has been reviewed and assessed as eligible, an email will be sent to the landlord asking them to complete the application process. Tenants should inform their landlords that they are applying for the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program so that their landlord can watch for this email.”
Patrick said he received the eviction notice from his landlord four days after he applied for the rental supplement.
“The owner knows I can’t be evicted, but he wanted it given anyway,” Patrick said. “I hate being home, and now I’m on Ativan.”
Gharibnavaz said Patrick’s story fits a pattern of similar stories that VTU has been hearing from renters across the province.
“The VTU is calling on the provincial government to cancel rents and suspend mortgage payments with no interest accrual during the pandemic so these issues don’t continue to come up,” Gharibnavaz explained.
“And we’ll be pressuring them to cancel outstanding rents and eviction notices after the pandemic so that tenants don’t bear the brunt of this crisis by losing our homes or wiping away our futures.”
Editor’s Note: At their request, PressProgress has used an alias in place of the name of the renter quoted in this story in order to protect them from retribution.