Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Opinion: Burnaby renter stuck in ‘asbestos death trap’ house

Renters says they couldn't get out of lease
Burnaby renters have been complaining lately about holes in their ceilings.

Joanne in Burnaby is making a bid for her landlord to earn the title of “worst-ever slumlord” for some seriously unhealthy living conditions.

Joanne, who suffers from a lung disorder, emailed about how she and her husband are stuck with a signed lease for a house that has serious issues that the landlord is refusing to fix.

She calls it “negligence” and it’s hard to argue with that assessment. The issues include substandard electrical, mould and being an “asbestos death trap.”

“I can tell you first hand that there’s little to no help from the city or province on these matters,” she writes. “We complain and our landlords have done ‘just enough’ and ‘just in time’ to keep us from being able to have the Residential Tenancy Board step in. The landlord has admitted to being negligent in not fixing our roof years ago, but is now silent to our attempts at communication. Their response to us was they ‘feel’ the house is in perfectly good condition for a house its age. We aren’t the first tenants in this house that have had to go through this with this homeowner, but there seems to be no help other than a sea of paperwork and years of arbitration.”

The couple has suffered financial, physical and mental health damage from the protracted fight.  

“The Residential Tenancy act does not allow us to refuse the rental, even though there was clear evidence that the roof leak they said was ‘only minor and fixed’ had actually been ongoing for years already … The landlord finally booked a company to fix the entire roof, when it was obvious his band aids weren’t working anymore, and then it was cancelled because it was going to rain. WHAT!!!??? Months of drought dried out the house, and then 4 days after they were supposed to start work, but cancelled… it poured. Gallons of mouldy, dirty water poured into our upper floors suite over the course of 12 hours or more… Our landlord did nothing! Silence.”

These stories are heartbreaking and devastating to read, especially since there is little recourse for these tenants.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.