Written by Keleah Strack – Poverty Law Advocate
“We had a family who was served a 2-month eviction notice for landlord use of property. The landlord claimed that she needed the tenants to vacate because she wanted to move into the tenant’s rental property. The family scrambled to find a new place, put their belongings in storage and incurred debt.
The current rental vacancy rate in Penticton is 1.4% and in Summerland where this couple lived the vacancy rate is 1.2%. This means that people who are evicted are pushed into temporary housing in motels or vacation rentals. This can lead to multiple moves, little hope of settling down in a stable environment and sometimes homelessness.
After a few months in temporary housing, the family saw their old place listed for rent at an elevated cost. They realized that their ex-landlord had evicted them illegally to increase her monthly profit. They contacted our office for support and thanks to the online rental listing and landlord’s social media posts, the advocate was able to compile strong evidence for the tenancy hearing. They won and were awarded a monetary claim for 12 months of rent, the maximum penalty for this type of illegal eviction. This reward enabled the family to move forward and find permanent housing.
These 2-month notices have become common for landlords who want more money from their investments. They are difficult to fight because in order to prove bad faith the tenant often needs to vacate and wait 6 months before they can file for dispute. In that time, they scramble to find housing and incur costs related to relocation. They sometimes are forced out of their communities, away from their doctors, extended family and friends. We have seen people evicted with serious health conditions who have upcoming surgeries and other medical appointments they miss because they have to move 8 to 10 hours away where life is more affordable but less accessible.
Having assistance and support when disputing illegal evictions, like the two-month notice this family received, can have a big impact on tenant’s wellbeing. The process can be long and complicated but when tenants are successful, the financial reward can provide some relief. In this family’s case it led to more stable housing and debt repayment. These small wins also discourage landlords from illegal evictions and force landlords and tenants to become familiar with the BC Residential Tenancy Act.”