Improper eviction notices in Kitimat becoming ‘problematic’ for poverty law advocate

A poverty law advocate based in Terrace said there's a lot of improper eviction notices being given in Kitimat.

A poverty law advocate based in Terrace, but whom covers the Kitimat area as well, said she’s seeing a lot of housing files coming out of Kitimat in the past months.

Stacey Tyers, who works with the Terrace District Community Services Society, said 70 to 80 per cent of her housing-related files relate to Kitimat, and she’s seeing a growing number of improper evictions.

And she has great concern about what’s happening in town and urges people to be critical of eviction notices.

“Most of them are not valid evictions,” she said. “It’s becoming problematic.”

But she also thinks that it’s nothing sinister or vindictive that she suspects is pushing landlords in town to giving illegal notices, but merely some misinformation about their abilities as landlords.

For instance some may not know you can’t evict people on anticipation of selling a property, she said. Evictions can only come after a sale and the new owners have requested that action.

Her own general advice is, as best as you can, don’t give anyone a reason to evict you.

Also never ignore an eviction notice, whether you think it’s improper or not, and seek out advice.

According to Sandra Steilo, communications for B.C.’s housing ministry, residents are protected under the Residential Tenancy Act as long as they have signed a tenancy agreement.

A landlord must provide written notice of eviction using an approved form to end a tenancy, Steilo continues.

Listing the available notices a landlord can use, she said a two-month notice can be given “for landlord’s use of property.”

This applies when the landlord plans to move in, do major repairs, convert the unit or has sold the property and the new owner, or a close family member intends to live in the rental unit.”

Ten day and one month notices are also allowed under certain conditions.

Kitimat has its own Housing Resource Worker, Anne Moyls, who recently began her work under the Kitimat Housing Resource Project.

She’s a local point of contact for people with housing concerns, and helps people figure out housing options.

“I really strategize solutions based on the people who are coming in and sometimes they have solutions in their extended-world that they’re not aware of,” she said. “It’s never bleak. I’m an eternal optimist until all avenues have been exhausted.”

Housing has certainly had its crunch over the year with record low vacancy rates. The Kitimat Housing Committee also recently heard of an eviction notice to tenants on the two floors of the North Star Inn, which gave month-to-month lease holders until October 31 to leave. Residents were given the notice through a letter from building owner James Thom, who wrote that he could no longer afford to maintain the two floors.

Thom wouldn’t say publicly what sort of costs he was facing.

On this, Tyers had expressed concern that the notice might not have met requirements under the Residential Tenancy Act, because she didn’t recognize building maintenance as a cause for eviction.

“‘I can’t afford to continue running these floors’ is not something that is listed as a reason for eviction,” she said, referring to the Residential Tenancy Act.

According to Sandra Steilo, communications for B.C.’s housing ministry, residents in a hotel can be protected under the Residential Tenancy Act if the hotel is their primary residence and they have signed a tenancy agreement.

Thom told the Sentinel though that the six people who were affected by the notice have all found places to live now.

“They were given their notice but it doesn’t matter on that part anyway because they’ve got rooms,” he said, saying that people were either leaving town or had found places to stay in town.

“If you find them rooms that’s all that matters, so it doesn’t matter what was posted,” he said, noting that he personally made sure they all had a new place to live.

He said he expects renovations to take place on those floors now, but he’s not entirely sure what will take place until the deal finalizes on the sale of the building from the prospective buyers on November 7.

Back to Moyls and Tyers, getting people the resources to handle housing issues is what theydo every week, and people are encouraged to contact them with any housing questions.

Moyls can be reached at 250-639-6065. Tyers said she prefers e-mail, and can by reached at staceytyers@tdcss.ca.