East Vancouver tenants threatened with eviction by indebted developer

PortLiving's plans for a new six-storey residential building are running roughshod over tenants' welfare

East Vancouver tenants threatened with eviction by indebted developer

Tenants in East Vancouver are being pushed out to make way for a residential project, but the developer is allegedly saddled with hundreds of millions in unpaid loans.

Renters in the area’s Connacher House and The Carolina apartments are facing the threat of eviction, after developer PortLiving began purchasing properties in the vicinity starting 2018.

Among PortLiving’s plans for its upcoming six-storey Midtown Heritage residential building is to refurbish The Carolina and relocate the Conacher House to an area previously occupied by a soon to be demolished depot, News 1130 reported.

But the Vancouver Tenants Union said that PortLiving is adhering to just the “bare minimum” of the city’s tenant welfare policies.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic. There’s no rush to get these tenants out,” said Vince Tao, a member of the union’s steering committee. “What we want, really, is PortLiving to come to the table and give these tenants extra time.”

PortLiving said that it has “worked very hard with these tenants on solutions,” and that it has offered tenants six months’ worth of free rent. The developer also said that it has provided referrals to help them relocate.

But doubts about the developer’s ability to follow through on its promises are strong: Less than half a year ago, PortLiving founder Macario Reyes said in a sworn affidavit that the company did not have the ability to pay more than $400 million in loans. The document also pointed to an estimated $46 million owed to CMLS Financial and Aviva Insurance.

Nelia and Wilfredo Guevarra, both residents of The Carolina for more than 24 years, said that they have received a letter to vacate the property by the end of September. They also said that the developer has threatened them with a court bailiff “to enforce the eviction if necessary” – a move that the couple called “inhuman” considering the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Business tenants were not left unscathed. Andrew Lee, owner of the nearby Mt. Pleasant Return-It Depot, said that PortLiving has ignored his requests for a grace period while he’s setting up his new location.

“I’ve tried to really work with them and tried to be reasonable; I thought they were reasonable,” Lee said. “It’s just really heartbreaking, and they have no mercy.”