NEWS

Tenants being evicted from leaky Sahota building

04/03/2013 03:36 EDT | Updated 06/02/2013 05:12 EDT
Many tenants of a North Surrey apartment building left after years of battles over upkeep, but the tenants who stayed and put up with the leaky roof — and the winter construction work to fix it — are now being evicted.

The Sahota family owns a number of buildings in Vancouver and Surrey, including Kwantlen Park Manor in Whalley, which had a leaky roof that the Residential Tenancy Branch had ordered the Sahotas in 2010 to repair.

The Sahotas were fined $115,000 a year ago for failing to fix a leaky roof, but avoided paying the provincial fine by agreeing to repair the roof and give some tenants a resettlement package.

The repairs were supposed to be complete in November, but CBC cameras could see Tuesday that the work is clearly not yet done. Last week, the tenants who stayed behind were issued eviction notices, and have just under two months to get out.

Donna Paterson's balcony was removed last summer, and all winter she lost a two-foot stretch inside her apartments while the outer wall was replaced.

"And of course our heaters went with the outside wall, so from October to February we've had no heat," she said.

She said she was willing to tough it out because it is hard to find a two-bedroom suite that is within her budget.

"Then when we got the eviction. I'm like, 'Oh no … I can't do this.'"

Bill Barnard, another tenant facing eviction, says he and others in his position should be compensated if they are being forced to move.

"We've lived through the winter with no roof. We paid the extra heat. We generated a rental income in this building for a whole year while nobody else would stay."

Barnard said he'd move tomorrow if he is compensated with a couple months worth of rent and the return of his damage deposit. Otherwise, he plans to stay.

"If I don't get that, I am fully prepared. I have sheet metal cut to fit my windows. I own a gas mask. You'll have to come here with a SWAT unit, take me out in chains, but you're not getting in here," he said.

CBC News called the property management company and the Sahotas, and also visited their Kerrisdale home looking for answers as to why the tenants are facing eviction. No one answered.

Kwantlen Park Manor's owners, Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his family, have run into issues with rundown buildings before.

In 2009, a Sahota-owned building on Wall Street in East Vancouver ran into trouble with sewage backup. And, in 2007, tenants were permanently evacuated from the Sahotas' Pandora Street building in Vancouver after the roof caved in.

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