Six months after receiving renoviction notices, some tenants of Pinecrest Townhouses are still unable to find alternative housing despite an Oct. 1 eviction date.
The renoviction notices delivered to tenants at townhomes on Immanuel St. in February have been extended twice by the landlord to aid tenants, Paul Legace tenant advocate at the Prince Rupert Unemployment Action Centre told The Northern View.
Landlords Steve Rodrozen and Avichai Shachar, the principal partners in 1232949 B.C. Ltd. the company that owns the townhouses on Immanuel St. first served eviction notices, taped to 35 unit doors on Feb. 26. This includes a multi-unit building on First Ave.
After a public outcry at the number of tenants being evicted all at once, city and provincial officials input, plus PRUAC advocacy and media attention, the landlords entered into vacating agreements with the tenants staggering the vacate dates and offering cash incentives.
Under the initial offer, the landlords agreed to postpone some evictions, with the First Ave. property off the eviction agenda until Feb. 28, 2021. It was proposed tenants at Pinecrest vacate in multiples of 12 units and every four months with termination dates of each block, as of June 30, October 31, Feb. 28, 2021. Tenants would also be entitled to up to three months’ rent equivalent in cash as moving assistance if they vacated by the agreed-upon dates.
But, the country went into lockdown.
With the pandemic and onslaught of COVID-19, the landlords once again extended the eviction dates by three months, to Sept. 30, Jan. 31, 2021, and May 31, 2021, Legace said.
“As of early July about six families had found accommodations and have moved,” Legace said. “There is now a bit of a crunch on, being late September. There is nothing available. Not all tenants have found a place to move to.”
Legace said potential landlords may be stereotyping tenants based on the condition of the units and how the complex looks outside.
“It’s no secret it’s absolutely run-down. We know the state – the units are a mess, that’s why they are being done, but we need to keep in mind this was due to neglect from previous ownership … The units themselves were a mess.”
“I do know that pretty much everyone there is working … these are all working folks,” Legace said.
They are working families just trying to get by day-to-day, he said.
“We are obviously happy to see our most vulnerable population have projects being done for them (like emergency housing and shelter) but, what is really being put out for our mid to low-income working folks, hard-working and backbone of our community. The real guts of the gap in housing is for these folks.”
Legace said they make too much to have government support or subsidy, but too little to afford high rents.
“I do not see a vacancy rate here (Prince Rupert) of above one per cent. It is very difficult to find a place even in ideal circumstances,” Legace said. He too has recently had his own experience in finding a rental so can relate to the tenant on a first-hand basis he said.
‘I just don’t see a lot of leeway for the landlords at Pinecrest to give more time,” Legace said. “Work is due to start Oct. 1.”
“The landlords have reached out to the tenants. They’ve made themselves accessible. I really think they did everything possible. They went way beyond. I know what the law permits and they have gone way above it,” Legace said.
Legace said tenants not being able to find accommodation has become a regional issue and is not just limited to Prince Rupert but also neighbouring communities such as Terrace and Kitimat.
“The problem is not going to go away in the next five years,” he said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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