Brenda and Gord Gartley spent the last week living out of a tent in Golden Ears Park after they were evicted from their Maple Ridge home on Thanksgiving Day.
The elderly pair had owned the single-family home on Rogers Avenue for a decade.
But then Brenda had to take care of her brother, who has a disability. Health costs mounted, and the couple had difficulty keeping up with their mortgage payments.
The bank had started foreclosing on their home when the Gartleys entered into a “rent to own” agreement with realtor Kevin Bratch.
The arrangement would see them become tenants, and allow them time to raise the money they needed to buy the home back for $400,000.
However, Bratch and a partner claimed that the couple were in breach of the rental contract, and they would be evicted.
“Here I am a property owner, that didn’t get paid rent for six months that had to evict my tenant through a huge hassle and now I got a property that’s completely damaged,” Bratch told Global News by phone.
“And I have to go into my own pocket again to fix it all out.”
The Gartleys have filed a statement of claim in a lawsuit against the realtor and his partner, Mandeep Tatlay, saying that they’ve done nothing wrong.
They’ve accused the pair of “predatory lending.”
Duncan Magnus, a lawyer who has represented several clients who have fought rent-to-own arrangements, said such agreements are legal, but they need more government oversight.
“There are a number of people that don’t understand their position,” he said.
“They don’t understand their rights, and I think there should be oversight for these types of things.”
Meanwhile, the Gartleys’ neighbours are heartbroken to see them out of their home.
“They’re elderly people,” said neighbour Bruce MacDonald. “They can’t succumb to the cold after working their whole life to have their home.”
“It breaks my heart,” said neighbour Connie Monkman.
“Thrown out of their own house on Thanksgiving.”
A GoFundMe page seeks to raise money so that the Gartleys can hire a lawyer and fight to own the home again.
They need one by the end of the month; a trial date has been set for February.
“This was their retirement home and it’s gone,” said Trish Tait, who organized the GoFundMe campaign.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.