Vancouver Tenants Win Another Round Against "Slumlords"

The former residents of 2131 Pandora St. have won another victory this week over their former landlords after they were forced to evacuate their homes after the roof collapsed in heavy rains in 2007.

The Residential Tenancy Branch awarded them $53,000 in compensation after they were given just three hours to leave.

This is the second settlement against the owners of the apartments, the notorious Sahota family. The first $170,000 was awarded by the RTB last year. The Sahotas appealed and lost this May. But according to a Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association (DERA) press release, no former 2131 Pandora St. resident has received any compensation yet.

The Sahotas have been under fire for quite some time for allowing the buildings they own in Vancouver to literally fall apart. An inspection of the Pandora building later found everything from mould to cockroaches. On the bottom floor, water was ankle-deep.

Vancouver City Coun. Tim Stevenson has called them “slumlords.” That they are allowed to stay in business is likely a symptom of the extreme housing shortage in the city that has seen land values and housing prices explode.
Former and current tenants have accused them of intimidation and refusing to return security deposits.

“There is no question the Sahotas can afford to pay. The Sahota family owns properties throughout the Greater Vancouver area, including a number of million dollar properties in the Kitsilano and Shaughnessy areas of Vancouver,” says the DERA release.

Those Pandora residents who participated in the first suit have a mortgage registered on a Sahota property. The BC Public Interest Advocacy Agency Centre has applied to foreclose the property in the hope that it will force the Sahotas to cough up the $170,000.

Many other Sahota properties have also been subject to forced closures and inspections that have turned up revolting conditions. Across the street from the Pandora building at 2178 Triumph, inspectors found rotten balconies, rats, roaches, mould, dangerous electrical wiring and broken kitchen exhaust ducts.
In 2006 at another Sahota property, 525 E. 5th Ave, two were injured after a rotten balcony collapsed.

A city inspector called 1847 Larch, another Sahota building, “a nuisance and dangerous to public safety,” and recommended it be demolished.

Very public incidents such as the Pandora collapse don’t seem to have pushed the Sahotas to change their ways. The DERA release says a Sahota-owned building in Surrey has been leaky for years and they have ignored numerous calls for repairs. A tenant has taken the Sahotas to the RTB to force them to perform adequate maintenance.

The Sahotas live in a house in Shaughnessy worth over a million dollars.

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