The battle over the eviction of five tenants from a house owned by Langley Township has moved into court, with residents and the municipality offering conflicting versions of recent events at the home.
Maureen Brown, one of the tenants, has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster trying to pause the eviction of the residents at a Township-owned home in the 20000 block of 80th Avenue, near the Langley Events Centre.
None of the claims made by Brown of the Township have been tested in court.
Brown’s claim, filed with the court earlier in May, seeks to put a hold on a possession order issued after Brown and the tenants lost a decision May 5 before a Residential Tenancy Board tribunal.
“No plans for development on this site, so why eviction?” Brown’s claim says.
She also said the group was given a four-month notice of eviction, for Jan. 31, but that the home was sold after that to the Township.
Brown’s claim also alleges that on Jan. 31, when Township staff arrived at the house, they cut a lock off the gate an “physical force” was used on one of her guests.
The Township flatly denied that any force was used in its response, filed with the court on May 19.
“This is false,” said the Township’s response. “No such assaults took place during that or any other visits to the premises by the Township.”
The Township’s response also lays out its rationale for the eviction, demolition of the building, and long- and short-term plans for the site.
The Township bought the property on Oct. 1, 2020, just days after the previous owner had severed the four-month notice to the tenants.
The plan by the previous owner was to demolish the home for development, and the Township as the new owner also planned to take down the house. A demolition permit was issued for the site to the previous owner, the Township’s statement says.
According to the Township, Brown and the tenants told the Township on Jan. 28, three days before they were due to be out, that a new rental unit had fallen through, and requested an extension until Feb. 15.
The Township refused, saying they could keep belongings there but had to be out for hazardous materials testing on the property.
On Feb. 2, several Township staffers including bylaw officers, along with an RCMP officer, visited the site.
“Police presence was necessary because of numerous ongoing issues with the persons residing at the premises,” the Township’s claim says. “Notably, from Jan. 1 2020-February 1, 2021, the RCMP have had to attend the premises on 23 occasions.”
The Township said staff offered help with moving and the RCMP offered help finding temporary housing, both of which were turned down, and the residents refused to leave.
The Township’s claim also notes that the tenants have not paid rent since December, and unpaid rent totals $8,000.
The plan for the property is as part of an expansion of the Langley Events Centre into a new entertainment district, but “in the interim, the premises will be used for parking.”
The Township argued that it needs to conduct demolition before the end of August because bird nesting means trees can’t be removed after that point until February, 2022.
The Township argues that the decision of the Residential Tenancy Board was already fair and should stand, meaning the Township can take possession and evict the residents.
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