West Kelowna woman locked out of her own home until B.C. state of emergency is lifted - InfoNews

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West Kelowna woman locked out of her own home until B.C. state of emergency is lifted

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June 03, 2020 - 9:00 AM

When the provincial government announced a ban on residential evictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hoping to save renters from predatory or unforgiving landlords, but it has also put people like Barb Reeves in a tough spot.

She can't get back into her own home even though her tenants’ lease on her West Kelowna house has run out.

She got caught in some bad timing when the province put the ban on evictions so she’s now living in a room at a friend’s place with her dog. What was expected to be a temporary situation is looking to stretch on for many months to come.

“It’s my home and I just want it back,” Reeves told iNFOnews.ca. “I just want the right to be in my own home again. Especially right now when I have to go to a job that’s so stressful because of this whole (COVID-19) situation.”

She works in the long term care field and decided to try out a more senior position in Salmon Arm about a year ago. In order to make the move, she hired a property agent and rented out her house with a lease that expired in mid-April.

The job and living away from friends and family didn’t suit her so she found a new position in Summerland that started in mid-April but the move back home didn't work out as planned.

She knew she still had to give her tenants two months’ notice even though their lease had run out. She knew that meant she had to put her possessions in storage and find a place to stay for what, she expected, would be a month or so.

Before she could give notice, the ban came down. Now she has to wait until the provincial state of emergency is over before she can serve notice and then wait two more months before going home.

Through her property manager, Reeves asked the tenants to accommodate her return and move out. They’ve refused.

“They don’t want to leave my house,” she said. “I don’t blame them. It’s a beautiful home. But they have the ability to and that’s what’s really irking me here. They have the financial means to do this. They’re paying their rent.”

Reeves hopes her story encourages others to speak up so, maybe, the government will move away from a blanket ban on almost all evictions. Some are allowed if there is serious damage or health and safety issues.

“My hope was that other people that are in the same situation would start to speak up and put a little bit of pressure on the system,” she said. “The (eviction) ban is one thing for people who are really going to be in a situation where they’re going to be homeless if they can’t pay their rent. But that’s not the general population. I think there needs to be some considerations instead of an all-out blanket situation. What about all these snowbirds that came back and couldn’t get into their homes?”

For the foreseeable future, she can only take her dog for walks around her neighbourhood instead of letting it run free in her large forested back yard.

“Landlords aren’t always the bad guys,” Reeves said. “Sometimes, we’re just simple people, like me, out in the world that are just going day to day doing their jobs.”

Because she’s working in long term care she now has to wear masks and goggles all day for her 12-hour shifts – including night shifts – and has to drive all the way into Kelowna to her temporary lodgings. That turns her 12 hours into 14 hours while she’s in limbo.

“I don’t live here,” Reeves said, referring to the townhouse where she’s staying. “I have a few possessions that I have set up in this room. I just want to go home.”

For more on the eviction ban, go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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