8 VancouVering Homeowners want renters gone
Weekend, October 6-9, 2017 Surrey cracks down on unauthorized suites
Christine Dubecki is trying to find a new landlord who will rent to a single mother of three on disability assistance who can only afford $1,050 a month.
With a rental vacancy rate at just 0.4 per cent in Surrey, it’s a nearly impossible task.
“I’ve already considered going to a woman’s shelter, because I cannot afford the market,” Dubecki said.
Heidi Thomas, another renter who moved into Clayton Heights as a single mother, is in disbelief.
“It doesn’t feel real because I can’t believe the city would actually evict people,” she said.
Mauro Hrelio is a homeowner who wants renters like Dubecki and Thomas gone from Clayton Heights. He complains the renters in his neighbourhood are loud. They flick cigarette butts on the ground. And, he says, their children are overcrowding local schools.
He also complains that it’s hard for his elderly parents to find a place to park near his house when they visit. In order to save the spot in front of his house, he parks one of his three vehicles on the street instead of in his driveway.
Hrelio has little sympathy for Thomas and Dubecki.
“You shouldn’t be in an illegal basement suite,” he said. Of renters in general, he later adds: “You’re just a renter — (homeowners) are taxpayers.”
After receiving thousands of complaints from residents like Hrelio, Surrey is cracking down on unauthorized basement suites in Clayton Heights.
The relatively new neighbourhood was designed to include basement suites and coach houses. Surrey bylaws prohibit a homeowner from renting out more than one suite, but over the years, multiple suites have proliferated.
Now, says Mayor Linda Hepner, the city has been left with no other choice but to order 175 homeowners to decommission illegal basement suites by Jan. 31. The city has relented on that deadline and will give extensions on a case-by-case basis to residents with extenuating circumstances, such as having a child in school in the neighbourhood.
“The (rental vacancy rate) is at an all-time low,” Hepner said. “We need to be cognizant of that and we have to manage that community’s concerns, where there are homeowners who say we expected to live in a single family neighbourhood, and those who are turning it into a multi-family neighbourhood.”
Hepner said the community has rejected several solutions, including a residential parking permit system and “queuing” — allowing more streets to have parking on both sides of streets, so only one car at a time can travel down the centre of the street.
Dubecki’s landlord has told her he will evict her with two months’ notice. As she searched Craiglist for listings, she came across the house where she rents a basement suite, listed as a home for rent for $3,400 a month.
“I had to beg my current landlord to let me live here, and I had to offer to pay $50 more to live here,” Dubecki said. That’s $50 she doesn’t have: it’s an embarrassment to Dubecki that she can’t pay for things like indoor shoes for her kids at school.
Hepner believes Surrey’s tight rental vacancy will ease soon because the city has issued permits for over 2,000 apartment units, including some rental. The city also issued 400 permits for secondary suites in 2017.
As for Hrelio, he’s hoping his neighbourhood will be quieter, and schools will be less full.
“50 per cent of the kids in this neighbourhood are in illegal basement suites,” he said.
Heidi Thomas and her son, Brandon, 6, are among hundreds who may have to move because of a crackdown on basement suites in Surrey’s Clayton Heights.