Shevaun McGillivray says she has had to throw out and buy new covers for her family's beds because of bed bugs.

Shevaun McGillivray says she has had to throw out and buy new covers for her family's beds because of bed bugs.

New landlords do not properly maintain Langley apartment complex, residents allege

Linwood Apartments are under renovation and some who live there say they feel like they are being pushed out

Residents of a Langley City apartment complex are alleging the property’s new owner has failed to properly maintain some units in what they see as an attempt to drive them out and raise rental prices.

The Linwood Place Apartments on 55A Avenue, recently changed ownership when it was bought by Burnaby-based Bayside Property Services last summer.

Some residents believe the company was aware of cockroach, silverfish, flea and bedbug infestations when they made the purchase.

Shevaun McGillivray, who has lived in the building with her common-law partner since 2012, and now has two children, said she had bedbugs in her apartment before the transfer of ownership but the previous owners did not do anything about it.

She said when Bayside took over last year, treatment for the bedbugs “did start pretty much immediately, which was nice.”

Denied compensation

But when the bug problem persisted, the property manager told her she would have to leave with her family for three days while they dealt with it, she said. But McGillivray said she refused to do so without compensation for staying in a hotel during that time. As a result, she claimed she was verbally told she would be evicted for not complying, but never via written notices.

McGillivray said she was forced to purchase plastic bins and bags to store clothes and other belongings — a $400 expense. “…And that doesn’t include the $300 we forked out for bedbug covers, and now they’re trying to tell us we need new bedbug covers. And they aren’t compensating us for anything.”

McGillivray said she wants to move her family to a new apartment but finding one with comparable rent — she currently plays $725 per month for a two bedroom unit — is made more difficult by the fact that she may have to buy new furniture and clothes to prevent bringing bed bugs with them.

A former resident — who asked not to be named because of an ongoing unrelated legal case — said she was served with a series of eviction notices soon after Bayside took ownership. She claims to have made supposed missed payments but was unable to prove it because she was paying with cash through an office mail slot.

‘Lipstick on a pig

Another Linwood resident who, concerned about consequences from Bayside, asked to only be identified by her nickname, Jade, had similar complaints.

“We have had non-stop infestations of fleas on the first floor… silverfish and cockroaches and some people are still having cockroach issues,” she said.

She said Bayside has put new coats of paint on the walls and new gardens on the property instead of addressing more serious issues, calling it “putting lipstick on a pig.”

Jade said she has tried for several months to get Bayside employees to address mould growing in her bathroom’s ceiling fan. She said she was first told that what she believed to be mould was in fact corrosion and was subsequently told that because it had stopped growing, there was no need for concern.

Jade said she then sent photo of the ceiling fan to a mould-removal company who told her it was almost definitely mould and that she should send a letter with pictures to the landlord, requesting that it be taken care of.

Jade sent such a letter to the property manager on Jan. 14, 2016  but has yet to have the mould removed, she said. She covered to fan with plastic wrap to prevent mould from falling into her bathroom, she said.

Compensation unlikely

Without proof or an “evidentiary trail” of letters sent to Bayside, these residents are unlikely to get the compensation they want, said Lorna Armstrong, with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.

Armstrong said McGillivray’s belief that she should be compensated for staying in a hotel while bugs are exterminated is likely valid.

“If through no fault of their own, the unit is unlivable, then the tenant can look to the landlord to be compensated,” she said, adding that the landlord would have to be able to prove McGillivray brought the bedbugs into the building to hold her accountable for them.

She said that if Bayside employees were indeed threatening her with eviction verbally, she should respond in writing, preferably in a letter hand-delivered to the property manager and with a third-party witness.

“If you were one of these tenants calling me, my counsel to you would be always to put something in writing to the landlord,” she said “And when I say writing, I do not mean texts or emails.”

Armstrong also said that if McGillivray was told to throw out her child’s bed and clothing, that was most likely inaccurate.

“I know that if your dryer is a reasonable dryer of a certain temperature, that kills bed bugs… I think that that was just kind of bad counsel on the part of the landlord and the tenant adhered to it,” she said.

‘Dire’ need for affordable housing

There are far too few places like Linwood with affordable rent in Metro Vancouver, according to Pivot Legal Society‘s housing campaigner, DJ Larkin.

“The need for affordable housing in Metro Vancouver is dire and that need will continue to increase as low-income renters are pushed out of Vancouver,” she said.

She said that while residents in situations like the one Linwood residents allege have rights, they may not know about them or be hesitant to use them.

“Paying reasonably affordable rent is not a reason to be subjected to improper maintenance. Landlords have an obligation to properly maintain their properties and tenants can seek orders to force proper maintenance in some circumstances.”

The Times has seen evidence of bedbugs in McGillivray’s unit and has seen pictures of mould, as well as a picture of the letter reportedly given to a Bayside employee in January, regarding the possible mould.

Other claims by Linwood residents regarding the conduct of Bayside employees have not been proven.

Bayside has not responded to repeated requests to respond to these allegations, citing privacy concerns. The statement, attributed to the company’s president Lynda Creamer, reads, in part: “Bayside’s integrity and professionalism is second to none in the property management industry. Bayside Property Services is responsible for ongoing managing/executing operations and capital improvements for Linwood… the company observes the Real Estate Services Act, the Residential Tenancy Act, and all the other applicable regulations respecting the rights of tenants, particularly those affected by a major rehabilitation and upgrade of a property.”

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