People living in two rental apartment buildings situated next to each other in Langley City will be looking for a new place to live over the next three months.
Last week, residents of Merton Court and Carroll Court received notices from property owner Linda Wu that the two buildings are scheduled for demolition, tentatively on April 1, 2017.
The news comes roughly nine months after a March 23 fire destroyed six apartment units at Carroll Court, 5630 201A St.
When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out of a second floor unit at the back.
The adjacent Merton Court building, at 5640 201A St., was untouched.
In a notice to residents dated Dec. 5, Wu said insurance assessments over the past several months revealed the extensive extent and scope of the damages.
“Unfortunately,” Wu said in the notice, “this is beyond our means of repair.”
In the interim, Wu will continue to operate the two buildings until Feb. 28, 2017, since that is the last day of insurance coverage.
The City received a demolition permit application on Thursday afternoon, noted Gerald Minchuk, Langley City’s director of development services and economic development.
Minchuk said the City has yet to receive a re-development application.
When contacted by the Times, Wu said in addition to the fire damage at Carroll Court, the two buildings are more than 50 years old with “asbestos and lots of problems.”
According to BC Assessment, Carroll Court was built in 1964 and was assessed in July 2015 at $1,925,000.
Merton Court was constructed a year later, in 1965, and had a total value of $2,042,000.
Both Merton and Carroll Court are known as some of the cheapest places to rent in Greater Vancouver, with average rates beginning around $650 per month.
With the combined private apartment vacancy rate for Langley City and Township at 1.1 per cent in October, compared to 1.5 per cent in October of 2015, Langley outreach worker Fraser Holland with Starting Point said losing the two apartment buildings “tightens the noose” a little further on Langley’s rental stock.
“It’s probably displacing people who are stable tenants, and it could mean some of those people who are Langley residents for many years may have to look outside the community (for a place to live),” Holland said. “For us as an outreach program it’s one less landlord that we can build a relationship with and support tenants who are in there, if they are having any challenges or issues. And being able to house people who need housing.”
Wu said since she took ownership of the buildings two years ago, she has “already fixed lots of things, but it still didn’t work out.”
“With the fire, and… we’ve had crime and people breaking in,” she added.
Wu cited incidents in which a caretaker’s car was burned and a security system was stolen.
“Even though we have poured in lots of money in, with this insurance, and no way to renew, I just can’t run a business like that,” Wu said.
“I really want to take care of my tenants, first,” Wu said. “I know my tenants are low-income. It’s just out of my control.”
Wu provided residents of the two buildings with a list of current available units for rent that she found as well as information about rental properties close by which might have vacancy.
According to the Tenancy Act, financial compensation must be provided in the amount of each tenant’s current monthly rent.
“Although not required by the Tenancy Act,” Wu said in the notice, “as our gratitude to your staying in our property in the past, we are willing to provide the following additional compensations to make your move as easy as possible.”
These compensations include:
1.) A flat rate $500 payout for moving expenses,
2.) A flat rate $400 long-term tenant gratitude for those tenants who have lived in either apartment for more than 10 years,
3.) Early moving out incentive including:
• $300 for moving out before Jan. 10, 2017
• $200 for moving out before Feb. 1, 2017
• $100 for moving out before March 1, 2017.
“We truly regret and apologize for the inconvenience cause by these unforeseen circumstances,” Wu concluded in the notice.