Residents of a rundown Douglas Street motel are fighting eviction notices, arguing the owner is failing to comply with B.C.’s residential tenancy rules.
Those rules require that municipal permits be issued for a planned renovation before tenants can be evicted.
Owner Mike Kelly disagrees, saying he checked with the branch prior to issuing two-month eviction notices for 60 tenants at his motel, located at 3025 Douglas St.
A $1.5-million renovation is planned, with the aim of renting the building to another operator, who would fill it with foreign language students.
Victoria Coun. Lisa Helps said Monday that she checked into the issue after hearing from a tenant facing eviction. “There are no permits,” she said. “I don’t know on what basis he is actually evicting people.”
When landlords carry out extensive renos or repairs, they must have necessary permits in place prior to issuing notices, a residential tenancy branch spokeswoman said in a statement.
The 48-unit motel was once part of the Traveller’s Inn chain. After purchasing the property, Kelly was unsuccessful in a 2011 attempt to get permission to convert it into low-cost rental apartments. It is now zoned for transient use.
[Hal’s note herein in bold: Mike Kelly threatens the city if they don’t issue a building permit]
Kelly said he has few options because of Victoria’s stance. “I think they backed me into a corner.”
Last month, Kelly said he was considering razing the motel. It needs major upgrading. Otherwise he will put up a chain-link fence and let it sit for 10 or 20 years.
The new scenario would see the building leased to another operator under a 10-year contract, he said.
“I’m going to gut all the rooms, then I’m just going to rebuild them.” The interior and exterior of the building will be renovated and the property will be brought up to code, Kelly said. “It will be like a brand-new apartment.”
Motel tenant Hal Hannon said he will be able to find another place. However he fears others will not be able to do so.
“They are not going to find a place … I know they are going to be homeless.”
He is self-supporting but said many tenants are on some kind of assistance. “There are some here who are challenged in many ways, not just financially.”
Tenants were paying $600 to $700 a month for the motel units.
Cristina Patterson, 46, was on her way to the tenancy branch on Monday to challenge the notice. She said most tenants were filing complaints.
Patterson, who is on a disability allowance, moved into the motel in November with her dog, Chilli.
She pays $650 a month for a unit and said she has no money to relocate and no credit — and will likely have a hard time finding a place that accepts pets.
[Hal’s note herein in bold: Despite the rosy picture painted by government, residents are going to have a hard time finding other places to live]
“I’m looking at putting my stuff in storage and trying to find another motel or sleeping on someone’s couch for a while.”
Kathy Stinson, Victoria Cool-Aid Society executive director, said it appears more rental accommodation is opening up, however.
Another former Traveller’s Inn at Rock Bay is being renovated. Accordingly it will be coming back on the market soon. Also, some new rental buildings are coming on stream as well, and this is the time of year when university students are leaving town.
Social agencies, such as Pacifica Housing’s homeless outreach program, can assist those who need help to find a place to live, she said.
“If they can afford to pay rent there, they can afford to pay rent somewhere else,” she said.
“Some of these Traveller’s Inns were not very well positioned to be permanent housing. So the fact that they are being renovated, I think, is a good thing.”
Cool-Aid runs a former Traveller’s Inn, now called Queens Manor, which was bought by the city and subsequently purchased by B.C. Housing.
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