Written by Trevor McNeil

Friday, 21 March 2014


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Housing has become a serious issue as of late. Age old issues of sub-standard housing and illegal tenant evictions still are still alive and well, recently having been joined by new scams and blood-suckers like sub-prime mortgages and time-share hucksters.

Worse than any of these, relatively recent quagmires, they are still nothing compared to those of the pre-Capitalist Feudal Era. Ah, yes, the Feudal Era. That bygone age of serfs in small villages and knights on horseback, all over seen from manors and castles by Lords. The castles, Knighthood and Serfdom may now be gone but Lordship is still alive and well. We have just tacked the word "land" in front of it, allowing many to conduct themselves in the worst tradition of the overlords robber barons who came before them.

Such is the case in the far flung Canadian province of British Columbia, The root of the problem lies with the province's "Landlord Tenant Act", the legislation which is meant to regulate housing but is squarely on the side of former that it would really be more accurately described as "The Fuck The Tenant Act". There is also seems little chance of improvements on the current protections, such as brining in rent controls or enforcement of what laughably few regulations there already are, because the politicians of the place somehow figure that 35% (the number of house-owners in British Columbia, including good number of provincial politicians) is more than 65% (the number of people who rent).

Two of the worst offenders are Wendy and Tony Ma of Victoria, Big Mamma and Boss Ma to their friends, accomplices and victims, who are "well known" to the Victoria-based anti-poverty group Together Against Poverty (T.A.P.S). This is largely due to high rents and the sub-standard conditions of their buildings. Yes buildings. Despite claiming to only have one building as a sort of hobby they, in fact, have multiple properties, all, except the ones they live in, in varying states of disrepair. Conditions which a Victoria area doctor has described as "unacceptable by anyone's standards". Yet as of this writing, the rent at the Ma's building on Pandora Avenue was increased to $1000 a month for a small one-bedroom apartment. The increase was to pay for "maintenance", their somewhat overstated term for changing light bulbs and painting over the toxic black mold rampaging through the units. If a tenant is one day late on the rent, they are likely to find an eviction notice in their mailbox. A petty move of racketeering more fitting in a 16th century slum than a 21st century neighborhood.

On the other side of the Georgia Strait on Vancouver's West Side, there is condo owner who rents out his unit and has "I will be there with a [insert applicable trade here] in the morning" as his standard response whenever requested to actually do any thing even vaguely remembering maintenance. 'In the morning' apparently being a euphemism for 'when I pay the mortgage on my first house and evict you'.

On the other side of town, three story houses are being sub-divided into one apartment per floor, each of the bedrooms being rented out individually for $1,000 per month.

There is also the matter of damage. So many buildings are so poorly maintained that there can be damage to the persons and belongings of tenants due to the negligence of the landlord. Yet it is these same landlords who have the gall to expect a damage deposit, which are rarely, if ever, paid back. So less a deposit and more of a signing bonus for actually finding someone willing to live there.

In times past, inequality such as this would often bring about riots, rebellions and even the occasional revolution (as good a reason as any really). Damn that Canadian politeness.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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