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Surrey renters concerned over illegal suite evictions to converge on city hall

Click to play video: 'The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo' The City of Surrey’s crackdown on illegal suites leaves 175 families in limbo
Tenants of illegal suites are caught in the middle as Surrey steps up enforcement. Nadia Stewart has details – Sep 15, 2017

Surrey City Council will hear an update Monday night on the plan to evict up to 300 people from illegal suites in the Clayton Heights neighbourhood.

And they’re expected to be greeted by dozens of concerned renters and landlords opposing the move.

The city has issued eviction notices to the residents of 175 of the illegal suites in the area due to ongoing concerns about parking in the neighbourhood.

According to a city report, Surrey has received nearly 300 complaints on the issue so far this year.

LISTEN: Solving the parking issues in Clayton Heights

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But residents say it’s unethical to evict families in the middle of a housing crisis. Heidi Thomas is a mother of two and one of the renters potentially facing eviction.

“I am actually still in utter shock that they are going to kick children out to live on the street, because that’s essentially what they are doing,” she told CKNW’s Steele and Drex.

Thomas’ daughter is in grade 12 this year, and Thomas said she’s now stressed about the prospect of having to uproot her family and move in the middle of the school year.

READ MORE: Surrey cracks down on illegal suites, pushing 175 households into a punishing rental market

She said she needs a three bedroom house for her family and has a budget of about $1,600.

When she plugged those details into an online search for rentals she said she came up with two potential properties.

“So there’s going to be 300 families fighting for two places. Awesome.”

READ MORE: Petition asks City of Surrey to stop eviction of families living in illegal suites

Thomas said her landlord registered the suite with the city and has been paying taxes on it, and feels like he’s being unfairly punished for being forthright about the suite.

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The City of Surrey says an anticipated 500 new secondary suites are expected to come onto the market over the next six months, which it says should ease some of the crunch.

Surrey’s manager of bylaws Jas Rehal said the city has tried multiple tactics to try and ease the parking crunch in the area, but nothing has worked.

“There is, in essence, zero parking available if you’re a home owner and you have guests coming over, family coming over, they have to park a few blocks away,” he said.

READ MORE: Surrey condo residents rise up against strata after over $40,000 in fines in 1 month, they say

The city has given tenants until January 31 to find a new home.

“We worked through the engineering department and we ran about eight or nine different initiatives to look at ways to free up parking space, to alleviate the pressures there. And unfortunately none of those have worked,” Rehal said.

Thomas isn’t convinced, and said the city should look at other alternatives like painted parking spots on the street, or the partial conversion of some green space in the area to parking.

“I’m not giving up, the landlord’s not giving up, there’s a huge group of people that are not giving up on this issue because people are going to be living in tents on these green spaces that they want to save so bad.”

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Concerned renters and landlords have started a petition opposing the move, which has gathered just over 2,000 signatures.

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