West End Evictions are Rent Driven Hollyburn Tenants Say

CBC Vancouver

A second tenant is being evicted from an apartment building in Vancouver’s West End in a growing controversy over the tactics being used by the building’s owner.

“They want to convert my suite into a manager’s suite,” said Andrew Simmons, who had just received an eviction notice from Hollyburn Properties Ltd., owner of the Emerald Terrace on Nelson Street and several other apartment buildings in the Lower Mainland.

Simmons has 60 days to leave.

“It’s certainly not necessary to be evicting long-term tenants — especially not when there’s vacant suites right now in the building,” said Simmons, who’s lived at Emerald Terrace for 15 years.

Simmons said he and other activist tenants believe there are about six vacant suites among the hundreds of apartments in the 17-storey building.

Ten days ago, Lynn Stevens also got an eviction notice after living in the building for 41 years.

“I am totally devastated,” Stevens told CBC News.

Stevens, 82, is suffering from ovarian cancer.

Two Hollyburn representatives appeared at her door Tuesday looking for a response to the company’s demand that she move out, said New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“She had to call her son to get him to talk to Hollyburn and tell them to leave her alone and get out of her suite,” Chandra Herbert said.

Simmons said he believes Hollyburn wants to raise the rent by more than the company could if he and Stevens were to stay.

Simmons currently pays $1,100 a month and unless a landlord opts for arbitration, increases are limited to two per cent a year as long as the tenant remains.

“Most of the one-bedroom suites, they ask between $1,400 and $1,600 a month, which is a significant increase,” he said.

It’s the second eviction notice Hollyburn has sent to Simmons in 18 months.

In 2008, he led a successful fight against the landlord after it threatened to evict 10 cat-owners from building.

“They’re targeting him,” said Stevens.

Hollyburn declined interview requests Tuesday but has said it has units for Emerald Terrace tenants like Stevens and Simmons in its other buildings.

With files from the CBC’s Belle Puri

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