Joyce Collins is facing eviction from her rental unit at Golden Homes along with other seniors in the 55+ mobile home park in Westbank.
“We are seniors ranging in age from 69 and up. This is quite a hardship on us emotionally, physically, and financially,” Collins said.
Landlord and property owner RMD issued its first notice of eviction on Feb. 28.
The notice, Collins and others received, stated the age of the units was concerning to the condition of the properties, and based on past inspections the units were in need of “extensive renovations including upgrading to the electrical and plumbing where necessary.”
A plumbing issue in Collins’ unit began shortly after the notice to end the tenancy was sent out.
On March 13, the six tenants were given a letter informing them the first eviction notice had been rescinded and another would be sent out once demolition permits were approved.
“After reviewing the findings of that plumbing failure, it has become evident that the units will need to be demolished,” the letter, obtained by Black Press Media, reads.
The first notice to end tenancy came a few months following a notice of rent increase that RMD never followed through with.
Tenants were again served with a notice of eviction for demolition on March 28. The residents in the duplexes of units four, six and seven at Golden Homes have been given until the end of May to vacate.
Collins has lived in her unit for more than two years and says other tenants have been there for over 15 years.
“All six of us have never had any inspections since we’ve lived here,” Collins wrote in a letter to arbitration.
“My unit 7A was completely renovated in 2020 when I moved in October. My unit did have a small leak recently in a pipe on Thursday, March 9 and was fixed on Tuesday, March 14, but other than that I’ve never had any issues.”
A second tenant who asked not to be named had a similar story, saying the unit they live in has had one plumbing repair in the 16 years they’ve lived there but never any issues with electrical.
Collins said she after the plumbing repairs were completed there were a number of holes left behind as the hired company didn’t replace the drywall.
Golden Homes at 2098 Boucherie Road is on Westbank First Nations land and WFN regulates the landlord-tenant relationships on its land.
In an email to Black Press, WFN wrote it “must remain neutral to tenancy disputes whereby it facilitates the arbitration process and assists in the resolution of landlord-tenant disputes.”
RMD does have to abide by the WFN’s Residential Premises Law, a policy that hasn’t been updated in over a decade.
As per WFN law, RMD did provide tenants with two months’ written notice to end the tenancy - something that the B.C. government mandates as a minimum of four months’ notice.
“Why did we not get a date for when demolition is going to start? What is the urgency of just giving us two months’ notice?” Collins wrote in the letter to arbitration.
Collins and the other tenants applied for arbitration and have a hearing date set for May 26. The arbitrator will then have 30 business days to make a decision, giving the seniors a little more time to move out if the arbitrator rules in favour of the landlord.
The remaining units at Golden Homes are all privately owned, including unit five which sits in the middle of the properties slated for demolition. The rentals also sit on the southeast side of the mobile home park with views of Okanagan Lake.
In West Kelowna and Westbank, there are only two options for affordable seniors housing, both of which are said to have long wait lists and are not pet friendly. The biggest challenge, if the seniors lose, will be finding somewhere nearby and in the budget.
“They just want us gone and out and then they can do what they want to do with their property,” Collins said, believing it has to do with the money over everything else.
Collins and some of the other tenants still work part-time to help pay the bills despite being in lower-cost rentals. Collins said she fears moving will force her out of the area, into a more expensive rental, and to quit her job.
RMD told Black Press they would not be commenting on the matter.
The properties are not currently for sale and it is unknown what the plans are for the properties if the units are demolished.