Tenants of a West End apartment building facing eviction for owning cats will have to wait a little longer than they’d hoped for an arbitration decision after their hearing at the Residential Tenancy Branch, Jan 16.
“We were hoping that the end of the paperwork would be today, then we would just put it on the table and wait for a decision,” says tenant Andrew Simmons, who is also a member of the tenant advocacy group, Renters at Risk.
But the 10 residents of Nelson St’s Emerald Terrace building who filed into Burnaby’s Residential Tenancy Branch last Friday were told the month-long arbitration process against Hollyburn Properties will take an additional two weeks as both parties must now review and respond to submitted documents before a resolution can be reached.
Xtra West attempted to attend the hearing but was told by an arbitration officer that, while the hearings are generally open to the public, this one was closed due the large number of people involved in the dispute and limited space in the arbitration room.
Outside the hearing, Simmons confirmed that both sides presented evidence but said he could not comment on what that evidence was.
Hollyburn Property manager Allan Wasel would not comment either but his attorney, Stephen Mellows, said the hearing was closed and that both sides have one week to review submissions and one week to respond before going to the arbitrator for a decision.
A resolution is now expected at the end of February — which is also when the evictions are scheduled to take place.
“It’s very stressful for a lot of people in our group,” Simmons says. “We are confident the decision will be in our favour but you never know.”
The Residential Tenancy Branch now has up to one month to render a decision but Simmons says the arbitrator is aware of the time constraints in this case and has told Simmons she will try to make a decision as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, the tenants must decided if they will scan the rental market for new homes or take a chance the verdict will be in their favour.
Simmons says the entire process has been lengthy, tiring and frustrating. “This is the reality tenants have to face,” he says. “You can see how many tenants choose not to fight when they are in a situation like ours.”
Emerald Terrace resident Rodrigo Munoz says he has no intention of backing down. “It’s so we can stand up to these guys. They [Hollyburn] are just bullying everyone from one building to the next. It’s just a matter of letting them know that they can’t do this,” he says. “They’ve really gone too far this time.”