October 09, 2015 - 6:30 PM
'NOW I HAVE LITERALLY NOWHERE TO GO, EXCEPT BACK TO THE WOMEN'S SHELTER WITH MY TWO KIDS'
PENTICTON - A Penticton family facing an uncertain future as the eviction deadline on their subsidized housing nears says difficulty with ministry paperwork is to blame and wishes her landlord would show a little bit of compassion for her situation.
Tara Lee Thompson says she was late making payments on three occasions at the subsidized housing facility where she lives, which was recently acquired by the South Okanagan Brain Injury Society, and has received an eviction notice saying she must be out by Oct. 15.
“The reason wasn’t because of me not caring. It was human error,” she says. “I fill out a form listing my earnings for the month to the ministry, and the ministry sends a portion of my income to pay the rent.”
Thompson, a single working mother of a 13-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy, says she had difficulty managing the paperwork required to obtain rent subsidy payments, resulting in a delay from the ministry delivering her payments to the housing society on two prior occasions this year. She says the landlord still received the rent payments within the first two weeks of the month though.
“On this last occasion, I should have called, but it slipped my mind. I received the note as I was leaving for work, and thought I had time to make the payment, but the process involves money flowing through the ministry, and they don’t alway issue the check immediately,” she says, adding she didn’t realize the rent wasn’t paid until the eviction process began.
Once again, full payment of the rent was made by the middle of the month.
Thompson says she discussed the matter with Brain Injury Society Executive Director Linda Sankey. She says Sankey told her if she could obtain a letter from the ministry explaining the circumstances, she might be able to stay in her house. Thompson was told the ministry does not get involved in residential tenancy disputes though, and on Sept. 21 an eviction notice was handed to her daughter.
“My rent has never gone unpaid. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, but my background, in making it this far, has been a long road, with a long process of healing,“ she says, describing a former abusive relationship. "It’s my first year being on my own, and I’ve been learning and making mistakes along the way. I’ve tried to be diligent. We have been a stable, happy family since getting a place here, but now I have literally nowhere to go, except back to the women’s shelter with my two kids to start the process of finding subsidized housing all over again. I think all I’m asking for here is a little compassion — I wonder why these institutions don’t see that.”
FOLLOWING THE LANDLORD TENANCY ACT
Sankey says she can't go into the specifics of Thompson's case because of privacy, but says they are obligated to follow the Landlord Tenancy Act when it comes to payment timelines and the eviction process.
"In general, because we provide subsidized housing, we work very closely with all of our tenants to try to come to common understanding as to what is the expectation of a tenant,” she says. “As a landlord, we’re obligated to follow the Landlord Tenancy Act regarding process for evictions. Basically that process requires a tenant pay their rent on or before the first of each month. If a tenant doesn’t pay, we tend to give the tenant a courtesy call, and see if there’s some reason, give them a day or two to get in with their late payment, and if they don’t come in by the second or third of the month we issue a standing notice to end tenancy based on non-payment of rent. That legislation allows the tenant an additional five days to pay the rent. If they don’t meet that payment within five days of receiving the notice, they’ve forfeited their right to rent there, because they haven’t paid their rent.”
Sankey says if someone is repeatedly late in a 12-month period, the act also says the landlord can evict based on repeated late payment.
Sankey says the fact the Brain Injury Society recently took over the building has nothing to do with this case and notes tenants are selected through a B.C. Housing Registry, so anyone from the public can apply to any of the society’s properties receiving funding from B.C. Housing.
“We will select someone from our own client base, if they have followed that process,“ she says, adding few people who have suffered a brain injury meet qualifications to apply for housing at Columbus Park.
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