Conditions worsened for the 124 residents of the West Hotel after it came under new ownership in late 2014. We door-knocked and met Dan, a a self-taught legal beagle taking the landlord to housing court for numerous violations. We met with City inspectors and together with tenants succeeded in getting new management at the West. But conditions soon got even worse. While Dan collected evidence and initiated dozens of complaints to the City and Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), we went door-to-door gathering repair requests. Dan passed these onto management and the City, to no avail. We finally set up a meeting with the head inspector at the City. Then a double homicide happened. We wrote a press release and suddenly the media started paying attention. With Dan’s leadership, the SRO-C helped 94 tenants launch the largest case in RTB history. Tenants were awarded compensation and the owner/operator was fined and ordered to make repairs. But this unfortunately resulted in the sale and subsequent upscaling of the building, with half of the tenants “renovicted” in the process.
In 2010, the landlord of the Lion Hotel received a grant of $1.2 million from the federal government to renovate the building but did a terrible job with the renovations. Among numerous habitability concerns in the hotel was mould, which began appearing in the front interior of the building. Albert, one of the tenants affected by the mould, was moved around to different rooms, but the issue persisted as by that point the mould had spread throughout the building. The SRO-C started organizing with tenants there in May of 2015. We helped Albert collect evidence and take the landlord to housing court. Albert received $750 compensation and the landlord was ordered to replace the walls and ceilings using a licensed contractor. We continued organizing with tenants at the Lion, and helped them file a joint complaint with the RTB that resulted in all tenants being awarded compensation for loss of services. Ownership of the Lion has since changed hands.
The Balmoral and Regent
Located on the 100 block of East Hastings, the Balmoral and Regent Hotels were the worst of the worst SROs and tenants endured unspeakably horrific conditions for far too many years. The Regent and Balmoral Hotels are located on East Hastings near Main Street. The SRO-C assisted tenants to launch class action lawsuits at both hotels with injunctions that had the potential to put millions in escrow and require a shift to non-profit management. These lawsuits were built upon six very positive RTB decisions we had achieved over the preceding years, media coverage that served as public education, hundreds of hours of evidence collection, and broad overall support for tenants in the face of serious violence and continuous landlord retaliation. Sadly, the BC Court of Appeal ruled against moving forward with those lawsuits, and the City ordered the closure of the Balmoral and Regent in 2017/18 due to unsafe conditions, ultimately expropriating both buildings in 2020.