The province has given the landlord of a Surrey property a way out of paying a $115,000 penalty for failing to fix a leaky roof on a Whalley apartment complex.
In March, the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) ordered Gurdyal Singh Sahota to pay a $115,000 administrative penalty for failing to complete the work on Kwantlen Park Manor at 12975 106 Ave.
The low-income tenants at Kwantlen Park Manor have long complained about soggy conditions it the 331-suite building and several times the RTB has ordered Sahota and his company Waterford Developments to fix it.
But it wasn’t done.
Sahota’s lawyer stated during the finding that one tenant is the sole source of the complaints about the building and that “any health and safety concerns are unsubstantiated.”
But the RTB poured over 300 pages of evidence in coming to its decision to levy the fine.
The fine against Sahota and his company included a $5,000 one-time penalty and $500 for each day since the last order to fix the roof.
On Friday, Oct. 19, the province announced it had reached an agreement with Sahota that Victoria says ensures the repair work will be done on the building.
Under the agreement, all work on the property is expected to be done by this November and will offer affected tenants a resettlement package.
“If the landlord complies with all requirements in the agreement, then the financial portion of the administrative penalty will be reduced to zero after two years,” the province said in a release.
Bruce Ralston, the NDP MLA for Whalley, said the ministry is cutting the landlord a lot of slack.
“It’s a huge climb down from what the minister was saying about this unprecedented administrative penalty for one of the worst landlords in the province,” Ralston said.
He said the new deal has no “sting” in it at all.
“There’s no deterrent effect at all,” Ralston said. “You can negotiate your way out of anything.”
Sahota is also owner of Pinewood Apartments on Pandora Street, a single-room occupancy hotel in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver which flooded after the roof collapsed.
A provincial ministry of housing spokesman said of paramount importance was getting the building fixed.
“Our concern was first and foremost to get the units repaired and the building liveable again,” the spokesman said. “It is important to note that the fine is only on hold – it has not been waived. If the work doesn’t get done or we need to take further action against this landlord within the next two years then we can still collect the $115,000 penalty.”