Chilliwack tenant wins compensation following eviction, but has yet to see the money

A Chilliwack woman plans to keep fighting for the money she’s owed after being evicted from her rental home last year. Even though the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) ruled in Catherine Seymour’s favour, getting her compensation isn’t providing to be easy.

The 64 year-old, who is living on a disability pension, is preparing herself for the next phase of what’s been a challenging and overwhelming process. Last year, Seymour and three others at a Chilliwack rental property on Dublin Drive were given two months’ notice to leave.

“We’d moved in there because it was a nice house,” Seymour said, as she recalled moving into the home in 2020.

“It was a big yard, I could garden, and they wanted long-term tenants.”

The house on Dublin Drive ended up being sold, and it was indicated on a form to end the tenancy that the new owner or a close family member planned to move in.

But after the stated vacancy date on June 2, 2021, Seymour said the home was being advertised for rent again for hundreds of dollars more than the $1,950 they had been paying per month.

“Sure enough, there it was, up for rent for $2,900 a month,” she said. “I responded to one of the ads and said, ‘Is it still for rent?’ Yes it is.”

In January, Seymour won a decision in her favor at the Residential Tenancy Branch, where an arbitrator found there was “clear evidence the purchaser did not use the unit for their own use as they so specified in the two-month notice.”

Seymour is owed $23,500 in compensation, which includes 12 months of her previous rent and the $100 dollar filing fee for the application to the branch.

However, she said it’s still up to her to find the owners, and it turns out there are actually three.

Seymour had served notice to two people associated with the property: the single buyer listed on the eviction notice and the person she said advertised the home for rent later, who she initially thought might be a property manager. It turned out that person was also an owner, along with a third person whose name was only revealed when Seymour had a title search done after the branch’s decision.

So far, she said, she’s had no luck tracking them down.

“The addresses that were on the documents were not current,” she said, and added someone at the branch told her one option would be to start the hearing process all over again, and submit a new application.

“I just broke down. I just believed. I just couldn’t imagine going though that whole process again and trying to find them. I can’t find them.”

Lawyer Robert Patterson with the Tenant Resource and Advisory Center says there is a change the center feels could help prevent these kinds of evictions, which have been on the rise.

“Have the landlord be required to begin the process by applying at the Residential Tenancy Branch. The government has already made this change for renewals,” he said. “I think that by requiring tenants to be the ones in the driver’s seat, to be responsible for their own justice, it really does mean that many tenants still don’t really have access to it, because they don’t themselves have the capacity or the means to be able to take it through to its conclusion, especially when sometimes things go sideways.”

CTV News reached one of the three listed property owners by phone. They said they knew nothing about the Residential Tenancy Branch case or whether the property was put up for rent again after the eviction.

Seymour plans to try to pursue her compensation through the courts, but would like to see more help for tenants in her position.

“I know I’m not the only one,” she said. “There’s got to be a lot of people out there that this has happened to.”

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