Eviction hearing pushed to 2023 for Kelowna, B.C. problem house

Click to play video: 'Eviction hearing pushed to next year for notorious problem house'
Eviction hearing pushed to next year for notorious problem house
WATCH: It has drawn the attention of RCMP, city bylaw, the fire department, and the media for some time now. A Kelowna home was labeled a problem property. The landlord is desperately trying to evict the tenants but as Victoria Femia reports, bureaucracy is delaying the eviction process until at least the new year. – Sep 2, 2022

A home on Nickel Road in Kelowna, B.C., labelled a problem house by RCMP, has racked up over three dozen police files since November 2021 and the tenants owe more than $17,000 in rent.

The landlord, Amit Chopra, recently applied to expedite a scheduled eviction hearing from October to September, but it was pushed to January instead by the residential tenancy branch — with no explanation, Chopra says.

Read more: Problem house in Kelowna continues to draw police attention

“I just got an email a couple of days ago saying, ‘Your date is January,’ I said, ‘What? You were supposed to give me a sooner date, not a date that is four, five months down the line,'” said Chopra.

Chopra took over the home in March and by April he knew there were serious problems with the tenants. Since then he’s pleaded with the residential tenancy branch to have them evicted, but five months later there’s still no resolution, and he says the condition of the home is progressively getting worse.

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“Now that house is no good, ” Chopra said. “The only thing that could be done with that house is that you demolish that house.”

Upwards of 20 people are believed to be going in and out of the home every day, none of whom, Chopra says, are the official tenants.

Police say the home has accumulated 37 police files on it since November, with the most notable offences being: reports of a drug house, overdoses, assault, suspicious activity and theft.

Read more: Kelowna RCMP investigating serious assault on Nickel Road

With Chopra living in Surrey, he says the neighbours would frequently send him photos and messages of police being at the home. Chopra credits the enforcement agencies for being helpful but says there’s only so much they can do.

“Their hands are tied up to a certain limit the RCMP in Kelowna, the Fire Department in Kelowna, trust me, I have never seen such great people, they bend over backwards they help you out but this is the responsibility of RTB, they can’t kick people out until RTB acts.”

The Ministry of the Attorney General and Responsible for Housing tells Global News that they are currently dealing with a high volume of applications, with an average of 1,689 applications per month in 2021, and 1,816 per month this year.

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Click to play video: 'Owner of Kelowna problem house seeking action'
Owner of Kelowna problem house seeking action

“We agree that both tenants and landlords deserve fast access to services that help them resolve their disputes given the importance of the issues brought to the Branch by all parties,” said the ministry.

“Beyond the changes made in 2020 to hire more arbitrators, launch a more efficient dispute resolution system, create a new compliance unit to take action against bad tenants and landlords, and improve information systems, we are currently working to further streamline hearing processes and identify opportunities for faster outcomes for both tenants and landlords.”

They noted that the onus to prove their case is on the person making the claim, which in this case is the landlord.

“Applications to end a tenancy early are for very serious breaches only and a landlord would need to provide sufficient evidence to prove the tenant committed a serious breach,” said the ministry.

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In a statement to Global News, the BC Landlord Association emphasized how important it is for the residential tenancy branch to speed up hearings for both landlords and tenants.

Read more: Prolific offender, recently released from jail, arrested again: Kelowna RCMP

“We continue to hear from our members that there are long delays and other issues to get a hearing with the residential tenancy branch,” wrote the BC Landlord Association.

“With rising mortgage rates and strong inflation for maintenance and repairs to keep our properties safe, it’s essential that landlords receive rent and be able to evict non-paying tenants in a reasonable amount of time.”

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