For Immediate Release
April 30th 2021
TOWNSHIP OF LANGLEY (Unceded Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui, Semiahmoo Territories): Five tenants are facing imminent eviction led by the Township of Langley.
Last week, the residents received a letter from the Township’s legal counsel demanding them to leave the property by today, Friday April 30th.
“The letter frames us as squatters, but we’ve been tenants here for three years. We’re waiting for our RTB hearing which will take place in May,” stated Maureen, the resident of the household facing eviction who has filed a tenancy complaint against the Township. Rather than evict the household following the legal process dictated by British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Act, the Township has been trying to use its legal department to intimidate and brand the household of rent paying, lease holding tenants as criminals to be removed by police.
With nowhere to go, no support from the City Council that is displacing them, and with a Residential Tenancy hearing scheduled for next week, the household plans to hold their ground and stay in their home.
The house that Maureen, Gary, Jen, Steve and Bob live in was bought by the Township of Langley in late 2020, which bought it in order to extend the sprawling convention centre in the Willoughby area of Langley. The Township immediately issued the household an eviction notice, even though the Convention Center has been unused since the pandemic began and has neither the plans nor funding in order to redevelop the property. The Township’s immediate plan is to use the property the household lives on as an overflow parking lot.
Maureen said, “The Township wasted 10 millions to turn our home into a parking lot? It doesn’t make sense. We’re in a pandemic, they’re putting our lives at risk.”
When they received their first eviction notice in November, the household was assured they would receive support in finding a new home. But since then, the five tenants have not seen a housing relocation worker. Only City bylaw and RCMP officers and threatening lawyers’ letters have visited the five tenants.
“We would move somewhere else if we had somewhere to go,” shared Jen, who has lived on the property for over 3 years. To keep their home, the residents even paid an illegal $600 rent increase a year ago. “We knew it was wrong, but we were afraid we’d get evicted if we refused to pay. We didn’t want to make any waves, we just wanted to stay,” Jen said. Jen and her roommate Maureen have been looking for months for another home, without success. “The last one we saw, they asked $2850 for a 2 bedroom,” Jen explained. “And that’s without even allowing pets.”
Their story highlights how the power of landlords over tenants has become unbearable as the City and Township of Langley targets older rental buildings for redevelopment.
Metro Vancouver, of which Langley is a part, recommends a “one-for-one” replacement policy, where any demolished rental housing should be replaced with new rental units. But neither the City nor Township of Langley require that developers replace rentals lost to redevelopment. For the household facing displacement by a Convention Centre parking lot, this gap in Langley’s redevelopment policy is more stark because it is the Township itself that is violating Metro Vancouver’s 1 for 1 replacement policy.
A new study found that evictions bans protect communities from the spread of COVID-19. Surrounded by Surrey and Abbotsford, two municipalities with the highest number of covid cases in BC, Langley and its Township is putting the lives of this group of tenants and their community at risk.
Working with the Eviction Defence Network, the Willoughby tenants demand for the Township to
- Immediately cancel the eviction.
- Replace the 5 affordable rental units in the house with low-income affordable non-market housing
- Follow provincial housing policies and provide the tenants with a long term replacement unit at the same price for all tenants threatened of eviction