For Immediate Release
February 28 2021
Tenant activists shame investor-landlord at his West Vancouver home
WEST VANCOUVER (OCCUPIED SQUAMISH, TSLEIL-WAUTUTH, MUSQUEAM TERRITORY): Earlier this month, Joyce Lachance’s low-income, disabled son Curtis was evicted by landlords, Bill Mitsui and Tyler Zhang, who run the private real estate investment company Columbia Wealth Investments (CWI).
CWI purchased Cityviews Village, a low-income, low-rise apartment building in Maple Ridge last September. Most of the tenants in one bedroom units are paying $500-$700, but CWI has been superficially renovating empty units and renting one bedrooms out for $1200. Curtis was paying $500, which means that his eviction stands to increase Bill and Tyler’s profits by 240%.
Joyce had tried to stop Curtis’s eviction by filing a review of the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) decision that awarded Bill and Tyler with a two-day eviction notice, which she believes they obtained fraudulently. Curtis was evicted over failure to pay rent that he paid in full before the RTB direct order hearing gave CWI their two-day eviction order, suggesting that Bill and Tyler lied to the RTB about never having received Curtis’s rent. But because Joyce missed the deadline to file a review, the RTB flatly denied her application.
On Saturday, Joyce and the Eviction Defense Network took their resistance to Bill’s home in the expensive Horseshoe Bay neighbourhood of West Vancouver, where the median cost of a home is $1.5 million dollars. Joyce knocked on the door. Bill opened it, announced he was calling 911, refused to speak to Joyce, and then shut the door, filming the protestors from within his castle of cowardice.
Joyce addressed Bill through a megaphone, “Hey Bill, we’re here because you are evicting people. We want to shame you! Come on out!” Joyce and the Eviction Defense Network chanted, “Stop all evictions! Rent control now!”, “No landlords, no cops! All evictions have to stop!”, and “Evict your landlord!”, catching the attention of some curious neighbors and dog walkers.
The group then leafletted every house on Bill’s street, as well as downtown Horseshoe Bay, handing out 150 flyers that said, “Investor-landlord Bill Mitsui abuses tenants!” Two older women who didn’t live in Horseshoe Bay but were on an outing commended the group for taking action against a greedy landlord. A couple who also didn’t live there but had come for a hike similarly applauded the protestors. And even Bill’s neighbours were largely sympathetic and supportive.
Eviction Defense Network organizer Listen Chen said that since CWI purchased Cityviews Village, three tenants have been intimi-victed: “We use the term ‘intimi-viction’ because it doesn’t matter if a landlord abuses RTA loopholes to ‘legally’ evict a tenant, as in Curtis’s case, or if they resort to harassment and threats in order to compel a tenant to leave. Either way, the end result is the same: one more tenant is displaced to more unaffordable housing or homelessness, and one more landlord makes a windfall from an eviction. Instituting rent control that is tied to units is a simple way the Provincial government can disincentivize all evictions.”
Speaking after the protest, Joyce said, “I feel great! I think we embarrassed him, which is good because he shouldn’t be evicting people.” The tenant’s movement does not yet have the power to evict landlords, but forcing one to squirm in his own home is a start.