The Royal Hotel was purchased in 2019 in the hopes of being renovated. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Residents of The Royal allege illegitimate eviction

The notice to end tenancy threatens homelessness upon the building’s older residents

The owner and a residential tenant of the Royal Hotel have entered into a conflict over vacating the property for renovations to be carried out.

According to British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Act, landlords requiring properties to be vacant in order to renovate must first obtain all necessary permits, accompanied by a four month notice period, before they can ask tenants to vacate.

Tenant Richard Leeks, a 56-year-old Canadian who works at Fernie Alpine Resort, was issued a 60 day notice to end tenancy on Sept. 1, two months short of the required notice.

Leeks said he hadn’t been shown any permits that could back up the notice to vacate, and that he would be exercising his rights to stay should he not be served justly.

“There is nothing to dispute because there is no official notice … right now, we can just stay. He still has to serve us four months of official notice, otherwise we haven’t actually been notified.”

Hoping to remain in Fernie, Leeks said that he is looking for alternate accommodation in good faith, however has been unable to find affordable housing on such short notice, and was afraid of ending up homeless.

Leeks said that negotiations between him and the owner/landlord had broken down, and he had now been served what he called a “bogus” eviction notice because of a garden he’d been growing on the roof.

“(The owner) says work’s going forward regardless with power, wifi and water intermittent or cut. I’m going to try and get a lawyer and go from there. We still haven’t been served properly.”

Zuzana Modrovic, a lawyer at the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre that advocates on behalf of residential tenancy matters, confirmed that a landlord seeking to renovate a rental unit in a manner that requires it to be vacant must have all the necessary permits and approvals they require to do the extent of work that makes it necessary for the unit to be empty.

Modrovic further confirmed that once all permits are acquired, the landlord must give notice to end the tenancy effective on a date that is no earlier than four months after the date the tenant receives the notice, supplemented by one month’s free rent.

The City of Fernie confirmed to The Free Press that “the City has not received any applications for permits at the Royal site.”

The landlords of the Royal Hotel have not taken the opportunity to respond to requests for an interview.

READ MORE: The Royal Bar: the end of an era

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