Forced to renovict tenants

A Burnaby landlord says the city is forcing him to evict his tenants – including a family with young children – for bylaw infractions many other homeowners are getting away with. 

Jason Chow owns a duplex where he lives with his family and an extended family member below, in an in-law suite. On the other side, a young family of four live above a basement suite rented by three students and professionals.

But, he said, he has to evict all of his tenants following a recent city inspection prompted by a complaint about Chow installing new flooring without a permit. 

And the mayor is defending the city policies that could lead to the renters being forced out. 

The inspector found the basement suite windows were too small. Basement suites are also not allowed in duplexes.

Chow said he has until Aug. 30 to submit building plans to the city showing what he will do to bring his duplex up to code. He said that would require installing an interior stairwell, turning the two suites on one side of the duplex into one and replacing the windows – a lengthy and expensive process that, he said, can’t be done with tenants living in the home. 

“It's something I don't want to do. It's a little bit crazy to me, to just kick out everybody just to do some renovations,” Chow said. 

Chow said every one of the approximately 20 duplexes he viewed while on the market two years ago had basement suites, and a realtor told him his building had operated as multi-unit rental property for 50 years before he bought it. 

Many houses in Chow’s neighbourhood have basement suites with similar windows, but they aren’t being forced to renovate because no one has filed a complaint, he said. 

Mayor Mike Hurley said he has “very great sympathy” for Chow’s tenants, but the city must enforce its bylaws once a breach has been discovered.

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