Burnaby woman says landlord evicted her so he could list home on Airbnb
A 24-year-old woman claims she was evicted from her North Burnaby rental home to later have it listed on a popular short-term rental website.
Theresa Mansell says she and two other students started renting out the house back in September.
Mansell says they got a little suspicious when, in the beginning of February, a photographer from Airbnb came in to take pictures of the property.
“We told him, well, that’s impossible, because we live here,” Mansell said.
When she raised the issue with her landlord, she was told it was only the basement suite that he was planning to rent out.
“Just a few weeks after that, we got an email from him saying that he needs the place for his family over the summer and that he needs us to move out and come back in September, if we wanted,” Mansell said.
Out of curiosity, Mansell and her housemates looked to see if their place was listed on Airbnb, and sure enough, the whole house was already advertised on the website.
“It is really frustrating. Obviously, he lied to us multiple times right to our face,” Mansell added.
The landlord gave Mansell and her housemates an option to stay until the end of April, but they decided to move out on April 2.
“So our place was available on Airbnb literally on April 3 and throughout the entire summer,” Mansell said.
As of Wednesday morning, the posting is no longer available on Airbnb’s website, but Global News was able to take a screenshot of the listing.
Mansell says they had a six-month lease that would have ended in February, becoming a month-to-month agreement afterward.
But Mansell says it’s still technically a lease, and still requires proper reasons for eviction.
Under the rules set out by the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch, a landlord can serve a tenant with a two-month notice to end tenancy when the landlord plans, in good faith, to use the property, do major construction that requires the unit to be empty or the tenant lives in a subsidized rental unit and no longer qualifies for subsidized housing.
As far as a landlord’s use of property is concerned, it applies when the landlord moves in or has a close family member live in the rental unit or sells the property and the new owner, or a close family member of the new owner, plans to live in the rental unit.
Jane Mayfield with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre told Global News the landlord’s family moving in is a valid reason to evict someone.
However, any one time a landlord issues that notice, they have to begin using the property in the way that they stated they would in the notice and continue using it that way for six months.
“So if they said that their mother was moving in, for example, she would have to move in shortly after the tenant moved out and would have to live there for six months,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield said if the tenant moves out and finds out that it may not have happened, the tenant is entitled to two-months rent as compensation.
She said they have heard of similar cases and the tenants have successfully disputed the notice.
“I think a lot of homeowners realize that they can make more money on Airbnb instead of having a long-term tenant,” Mayfield said. “There are definitely fears this might be a trend.”
Some communities in B.C. are already looking into cracking down on short-term online rentals. Some strata councils in Vancouver are getting serious about the issue, posting signs in buildings that warn owners of potential fines for short-term rentals.
Next week, Vancouver city council is expected to look into collecting data on how many units are being listed for short-term rentals in the city and how often.
Earlier this month, Tofino city council unanimously passed a motion to crack down on accommodations offered on websites like Airbnb without a business licence.
Burnaby city councillor Sav Dhaliwal says the city council has not debated the issue of short-term rentals and Airbnb, but he believes there should be reasonable control of all business transactions that happen in the city, particularly the ones involving property rentals.
“If there are going to be short-term rentals, they need to be properly lincesed and residents should be consulted,” Dhaliwal said.
Meanwhile, Mansell says she is still waiting to hear back from the Residential Tenancy Branch about what the best course of action would be, but they are not fighting the eviction.
But Mayfield says if the notice was disputed, the landlord would have had to prove they, in good faith, intended to have a family member live in the place.
Global News tried to reach out to the landlord, but our calls were not returned before the time of publishing.
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