A group of tenant activists picketed outside the house of a Maple Ridge landlord on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Joyce Lachance, whose disabled, low-income son Curtis was evicted from Cityviews Village because of a clerical error at the beginning of February, joined the rally, which took place at Bill Mitsui’s house in the Horseshoe Bay area near West Vancouver.
Mitsui is the managing principal of Columbia Wealth Investments (CWI), an investment firm which bought Cityviews Village last September.
The picketers gathered outside his home and chanted. Some used a megaphone. Numbering about 10, the group waved signs, as well as a large banner, which read, “No More Evictions.”
Eviction Defense Network’s Listen Chen said it is important to keep the pressure on landlords.
“I think that the housing crisis has really increased the power that landlords have over tenants,” Chen said.
“They are going way beyond the power already afforded to them through tenancy law, because tenants are so fearful and aware of the precariousness of their housing situations, that a landlord can basically do whatever they want, so long as they evoke the threat of eviction.
“In that context I think it’s quite important that the tenants movement makes landlords uncomfortable, and tries to intimidate them when they do evict people, because that’s the tactic they’re using against tenants.”
Since CWI purchased Cityviews Village, Chen said 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 – and one more landlord makes a windfall from an eviction.”
Mitsui said picketing on private property is a dangerous practice.
“Not only does it disturb local residential areas, but it creates extra strain on police resources, and may also trigger violence,” he said.
Mitsui added he understands there is an issue with affordable housing, but noted he does not believe the onus should be on his company to address it.
“Landlords do not make the zoning change, nor build affordable houses. If landlords disappear, rental units disappear at the same time.
“So, attacking landlords has no effect on housing supply, in fact … it might make the situation worse.”
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