West End couple say rent hike battle lead to eviction

By Kent Spencer
The Province

A landlord in Vancouver’s West End, whose 38-per-cent rent increases were disallowed in court earlier this year, is under fire again from residents.

Christine Brandt and Mark Moore, a married couple who have lived in the Seafield apartments for 11 years, said Friday they’ve been given an eviction notice because landlord Gordon Nelson Investments wants to make room for an in-house manager.

“This is part of a campaign to push us to the brink,” said a teary-eyed Brandt. “I’m not going to allow a landlord to break up a community simply to make more profit.”

On Aug. 27, the couple received the eviction notice for their two-bedroom suite in the three-storey heritage building in the 1400 block of Pendrell.

They pay $1,400 a month in rent.

Moore says there is a vacant two-bedroom unit already in the building which could be used for management’s purposes.

He says he believes the pair are being targeted for speaking out against the landlords’ practices, which have included requests for rent increases up to 73 per cent and eviction notices for five tenants which have so far been unsuccessful.

“It’s like being driven from the village in which you live. This is an extraordinary community filled with different occupations and age groups. People help out with child care and take care of seniors. We’ve never lived anywhere like it,” he said.

Brandt said the long-running fight has taken a toll since Nelson Investments bought the property two years ago.

“We are going through the constant stress of living under the threat of eviction. It’s just not fair. We have a legal right to be here,” she said.

Chris Nelson, who co-owns Gordon Nelson Investments with Jason Gordon, claims Brandt and Moore took their story to the media to pry more money from the owners.

“We will not be intimidated by Dr. Moore and Ms. Brandt, who earn in excess of $150,000 a year as a Simon Fraser University economist and TV producer, respectively,” said Nelson in a press release. “They are using extortion tactics in the media to shake us down for excessive compensation.”

Nelson said the company’s eviction complied with the Residential Tenancy Act and provided for one month’s free rent and “discounted rent” at another company building.

Nelson said the company needs an on-site manager because it intends to do extensive renovations to the 75-year-old structure.

He said the vacant two-bedroom suite is being renovated, so it could not be used by the couple.

The couple’s fight is part of an ongoing battle with the landlords that encompasses other tenants and company-owned buildings.

Seafield tenants successfully fought rent increases up to 38 per cent earlier this year when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Linda Loo disallowed the hikes, calling them “patently unreasonable.”

Those increases are going back for further review to the Residential Tenancy Office, and the couple are also appealing their Nov. 1 eviction notice.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver-West End) said the couple’s problem is representative of many other renters whose stories don’t get told.

“You cannot abuse the Residential Tenancy Act just because you want to jack up rent. Many times building managers get away with it. This looks like a direct attack on the residents,” he said.

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One Response to “West End couple say rent hike battle lead to eviction”

  1. Olivia G Says:

    Aren’t GNI in contravention of FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) by publicizing tenants’ employment and income information to gain traction in a dispute? Landlords are allowed to collect tenants’ financial information for a specific purpose e.g. evaluating an application, but they are not allowed to use that information for another purpose without the tenants’ permission. ISTM that putting that information in a PRESS RELEASE is a pretty grotesque violation of privacy. It’s the equivalent of posting someone’s credit card numbers on the Internet.

    And in pure human terms, 10 days’ notice to a family with a small child to move is disgraceful. The DRO should be ashamed.

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