Most of the displaced residents at the Carroll Court Apartments are returning to their homes today (Wednesday) after a fire ripped through the building on March 23.
Six of the units, however, have been badly damaged, and those tenants — all of whom do not have insurance — will have to find alternative accommodations.
“It’s not easy — every individual has their own priorities on where they want to move, what they can afford and working priorities,” said Ginger Sherlock, emergency program co-ordinator for the City and Township of Langley.
Organizations such as BC Housing, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army have been notified, Sherlock said, but it is up to individuals to connect with them if they need assistance.
Both Carroll Court and the adjacent Merton Court are known as some of the cheapest places to rent in Greater Vancouver, with average rates beginning around $650 per month.
Only one renter in the entire building had insurance, and their unit was not affected, Sherlock said.
She encourages all renters to — at the minimum— get contents insurance. In some place like California, insurance is actually required by law, she said.
“It’s not that expensive, but when you lose everything and are starting from scratch it’s worth the $25 or $30 per month,” she said.
The City of Langley Fire department estimates that in 75 per cent of rental fires, the tenants have no coverage.
According to a recent census estimate, the City has 3,960 rental units, making up 35 per cent of its total housing stock.
That is more rental units per capita than most Lower Mainland municipalities (Only Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver City have higher percentages).
According to Statistics Canada, less than half the renters in the country are covered by renter’s insurance, also known as tenant’s or contents insurance.
That is way below home owners, 97 per cent of whom have coverage.
Going without insurance also leaves renters vulnerable to lawsuits if they are found legally responsible for causing a fire that damages other suites, even if the landlord is insured.
Although the cause of the blaze has not been determined, investigators are describing the early morning fire at 5630 201A St. as suspicious.
– with files from Dan Ferguson