Housing advocates rally over ‘fraudulent landlord-use evictions’ in New Westminster – BC


A Canadian community advocacy group is rallying Saturday with supporters over what they say were a number of “fraudulent landlord-use evictions” across the Lower Mainland.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) alleges staff has uncovered multiple long-term tenants evictions were made in “bad faith” at properties owned by Sangha and Harron Investments.

The rally was held in New Westminster outside of the Mandalay Terrace Apartment buildings.

ACORN alleges residents “have been evicted over claims that their apartments are needed for the landlord’s son.”

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“Landlord Ron Sangha owns over a dozen apartment buildings across the Lower Mainland through his company Harron Investments Ltd and frequently exploits the gap in B.C.’s eviction laws that allow evictions if the landlord personally needs the unit,” ACORN staff said in a release.

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“ACORN has uncovered the eviction paperwork used to force another former resident of Mandalay Terrace from his home in 2021 so that his apartment could be occupied by landlord Ron Sangha’s son. Instead, the apartment was renovated and rented again at a higher rate to ACORN member Ava Mah.”

A Sangha and Harron Investments spokesperson offered a statement regarding the situation.

“The issue relates to the eviction of one tenant from this building in order to allow a member of the owner’s immediate family to move into the space, which is permitted,” the spokesperson said in an email.

“While I can’t provide specific details due to privacy concerns, as provided under the Act, the company had offered the tenant the choice of compensation or relocation to another local property. In terms of the claim that our company is using collaborative landlord use evictions to get new tenants and higher rents, we can assure you that this is not our practice and the allegation is unfounded.”

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The housing activists are calling on the province to close the “landlord-use eviction loophole” and start investigating these types of evictions to ensure they are aligned with current laws.

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New Westminster ACORN chair Monica Bhandari said landlord-use evictions have replaced renovictions as the predatory landlord displacement tactic of choice.

“What Harron Investments is doing here is revolting, and is a prime example of the practices predatory landlords are using to get tenants out. There is a lot of money to be made at the expense of tenants, especially long-term tenants like those at Mandalay Terrace who are paying relatively affordable rents below the average market rate,” she said in a release.

“They’re putting the value of their profit at the cost of real people. This isn’t basement suites we are talking about here, it’s a purpose-built market rental building.”

Global News reached out to the B.C. Ministry of Housing for an interview. Ministry staff offered a statement through email.

Staff said the province has taken a number of steps since 2017 to better protect renters, including changes to the Residential Tenancy Act.

“In 2021, government made changes to put the onus on landlords to prove they used the property for the stated purpose for at least six months, and increased the compensation for tenants whose landlords were not acting in good faith in 2018,” ministry staff said.

“If a tenant believes a landlord did not issue a NTE for Landlord’s Use of Property in good faith, they can apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to dispute the notice within 15 days of receiving it. If the landlord cannot prove they have a valid reason to end the tenancy, the RTB arbitrator will cancel the NTE and the tenancy can continue.”

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The province spokesperson also said if a tenant vacates a unit and later suspects the tenancy was ended in bad faith, they can apply for additional compensation of up to 12 times the monthly rent payable under the tenancy agreement.

A Vancouver lawyer, who specializes in property transactions and rental disagreements, said these types of evictions are becoming more and more common in the Lower Mainland.

“I am hearing about a lot of these cases. There seems to be an increase over the last several years,” Ashley Syer said, with Syer Law.

“Some of the increase of the issue … is due to legitimate reasons — people needing to move a family member into the suite. But unfortunately, there are a lot of situations where landlords are trying to treat this as a loophole to get tenants out who are not paying enough rent in their view.”

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