While all but two of the tenants in the 13-unit Thornwood Manor apartment building at 1028 Inverness Rd. have moved out, Brent Summerfield remains.
The Thornwood Manor tenant of 12 years has a Sept. 20 telephone hearing with the Residential Tenancy Branch and a representative of the new owner, VPEA.ca, to dispute a Sept. 1 eviction he calls a renoviction. The only other remaining tenant has a hearing on Sept. 7.
VPEA bought the building (which was listed for $3.35 million) this spring and subsequently filed eviction notices on June 21 to the residents of all 13 units to be out by Aug 31. Summerfield was told the building will be repurposed to host international students studying in Victoria, which is VPEA’s business model.
The June 21 eviction notice given to Summerfield declares the owner had “all necessary permits and approvals required by law to demolish the rental unit, or renovate or repair the rental unit, in a manner that requires the rental unit to be vacant.”
However, as of Aug. 30, the District of Saanich had yet to issue any permit for 1028 Inverness Rd., according to Saanich spokesperson Kelsie McLeod.
“In this instance [Saanich] has no record of permits for the building though we are in contact with the owner,” McLeod said. “We’ve been proactive in reaching out to let them know they need to have permits in place if they plan to do a [significant] reno.”
It’s possible that VPEA have since applied for a permit. However, to evict the tenants without a permit is premature. A representative who answered the phone on behalf of the VPEA’s Victoria office wouldn’t comment on the building.
“It’s highly irregular for them to have done this,” said David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C., which provides support for its members, including landlord-tenant disputes. “The course of action of tenants is straight forward, it’s contradictory to the [residential tenancy act].”
In the meantime, Summerfield has not found a new place, although he’s looked.
Summerfield is paying $890 for his one-bedroom but heard fellow former Thornwood tenants who recently moved out are now paying $1,150 and $1,250 for similar places.
“You think [the owner] could have been a little more courteous if there’s no finalized plans, perhaps give us six months to move out or something,” Summerfield said. “I think they jumped the gun and were rude to everyone with two months notice before they even got approved.”
In preparation for the Sept. 20 hearing, Summerfield was sent an email from VPEA dated Aug. 24 which he shared with the Saanich News. It confirms an application for a building permit had not been filed with Saanich.
It also lists the plans to repair/replace the stairwells from the third floor to the ground level, to change/remove/repair most items in the building including kitchen cabinets, sinks, some toilets, some tubs, and to replace/upgrade all windows, as well as much more, including a variance request to convert part of the building’s rear parking lot into a multi-purpose room (which would have to go before council).