Vince Kinney can navigate steps to get around the house.

Vince Kinney can navigate steps to get around the house.

Secondary suite rule ends tenancy

Another soon to be looking for a home in Maple Ridge

Vince Kinney soon could be another joining the legions of homeless if he can’t find a place to live by the end of the month.

He’s having to start his hunt for a home because a City of Maple Ridge bylaw bans absentee landlords from having more than one suite in a house.

Kinney has been renting a room in the basement suite of a Selkirk Avenue home for four years, until neighbours complained, triggering a city bylaw investigation and an order to the landlord to remove the suite.

Meanwhile, the top-floor tenant, who’s only been there four months, is allowed to stay, he points out.

“I think that’s highly unfair because I have done nothing wrong,” Kinney said Wednesday.

Kinney is a Type 2 diabetic and has severe swelling in his legs, which cuts off all feeling to his feet and makes walking difficult. While he can walk short distances, he uses an electric wheelchair, which he says is scaring off potential landlords from taking him as a tenant.

“I am in a wheelchair part-time and on [disability]. There is nothing to rent and most landlords and apartment buildings in Maple Ridge discriminate [against] me because they are worried about their building not being handicapped accessible,” Kinney said.

He recently received an electric wheelchair from the government and gets monthly disability income assistance of $986 a month.

He was paying $525 a month in rent for one of the bedrooms in the two-bedroom basement suite. His sister rented out the other room until July.

“I can’t afford something like $700 or $800 a month,” said Kinney, 39.

He has registered with B.C. Housing in an attempt to get a subsidized apartment, but hasn’t heard anything yet.

“Look how many people are in tent city. So I’m going to be down there if I can’t find something in the next four weeks.”

Edward Chong, the landlord, said he’s being forced to evict Kinney after receiving notice from the city to remove the suite.

As required, Chong gave two month’s notice and a month’s free rent, then gave him a month’s extension until the end of August.

“The city says that I have to decommission the suite downstairs. I can’t use it as a secondary suite anymore,” Chong said.

Even if Chong lived in the house, he’d still have to spend at least $50,000 in order to bring the suite up to current standards. But the house is 40 to 50 years old, Chong points out. There are no safety issues in the house, he added.

“I just wonder if he’s [Kinney] going to find a place or not. I can’t give him an extension anymore because the city’s pressuring me, my neigbhour who complained is pressuring me.”

However, the city did send Chong a letter in May listing safety issues concerning wiring, smoke detectors, fire separation, ventilation and carbon monoxide detectors, said public works general manager Frank Quinn.

Chong has to remove the electrical connection for the stove, and stove and range hood, as well as the cupboards in the downstairs suite.

“That way, nobody can dare make a meal downstairs,” Chong said.

He wants Maple Ridge to follow Vancouver’s example and allow more than one suite in a home, even if the owner doesn’t live there.

“Maple Ridge has got a homeless problem. Just relax the rules,” he said.

Maple Ridge reviewed its secondary suite policies a few years ago.

Mayor Nicole Read said some members of council are concerned about absentee landlords who don’t maintain their properties. Members of the public also wanted to maintain that rule.

“I do think there’s more that council can do. We need to look at it,” Read said.

The city is implementing its housing action plan and trying to increase the amount of rental housing, she added.


Secondary suite rule ends tenancy