Single dad says landlord evicted him illegally, locked up possessions
Published Monday, April 16, 2018 9:40AM EDT
A single father in Surrey, B.C. is taking legal action against a landlord he says evicted him illegally and has locked up his possessions.
"They have everything up to and including my birth certificate, my daughter's birth certificate. Social insurance numbers, everything," said Brandon Fielding, who is staying at a hotel with his one-year-old.
Fielding says he was forced out of the condo he was renting earlier this month when his landlord changed the locks while he left briefly to pick up his daughter. Police were called and Fielding says his landlord was belligerent with them. But police left without Fielding gaining access to the unit or his belongings.
According to documents from the Residential Tenancy Branch obtained by CTV Vancouver, the condo's original owner, Timothy Karajaoaj, recently sold the unit and the new owner was set to take possession in early April. The landlord testified to the RTB that the new owner wanted the unit to be empty when they took possession.
Fielding says he has paid April’s rent but spent only four days in the apartment before the locks were changed.
“They never once indicated it was for sale or anything like that.”
Fielding was served two eviction notices. The first in January gave him a month to move out but it wasn’t filled in correctly. A second eviction notice then gave Fielding two months to move out. Both notices were thrown out by the RTB, which ruled Fielding could keep living in the home through April.
Fielding says Karajaoaj then changed the locks and emptied the unit. Fielding says his belongings are in a U-Haul storage locker in Karajaoaj’s name that he can’t access. He has tried to work with U-Haul but got nowhere.
"[The landlord has] a legal right to that storage locker like I had a legal right to my apartment," he said.
Fielding says Karajaoaj won't answer his calls or leave the keys with U-Haul staff so he can access the locker.
"There's been no contact," he said. Fielding believes Karajaoaj won’t pay the storage fees for more than a month and he’s worried his possessions will be sold at auction.
A provincial spokesperson told CTV Vancouver that the landlord’s actions are unlawful but must be handled through an RTB arbitrator. Fielding says the board has scheduled another hearing for April 30.
Reporter Allison Hurst at CTV Vancouver tried to contact Karajaoaj but he hung up as soon as she identified herself.
Spencer Chandra Herbert, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, said “distressing” stories like Fielding’s point to the need to reform provincial tenancy legislation.
"Sixteen years and we haven't had reforms even though year in, year out myself and many others have pointed to huge gaps in the system," he said.
The CEO of Landlord B.C., a professional association of rental owners and managers, agrees that reforms are needed for both landlords and tenants.
“If the compliance unit does its job in a robust fashion, I think that’s going to send an important message to both parties,” said David Hutniak.
Fielding says he just wants to get his belongings back and to find a new home for him and his daughter.
"Right now I have nothing," he said. "I went to the store to buy soup and then I left and I realized I don't have a bowl, I don't have a spoon, I don't have a can opener."
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Allison Hurst