Actions against slumlords on East Hastings heated up today as tenants and community supporters led a picket line in front of the Brandiz Hotel (122 E Hastings) today. This is the latest in a series of escalating actions against “the Sahotas,” owners of several notorious Downtown Eastside slum hotels including the Regent, Balmoral, Cobalt and Astoria hotels. Last month, tenants of the Regent launched a class action lawsuit against the Sahota’s and the City of Vancouver for failing to make critical liveability and safety repairs. The focus of the picket line was directed at a landlord next door, Anna and Mario Ludicio, owners of the Brandiz Hotel, who are according to reliable sources attempting to lease the Regent from the Sahotas.
The Brandiz is listed on the City’s Rental Standards Database as having 27 unresolved “issues”. A recent inspection of the hotel found that it is infested with bedbugs, cockroaches, mice and rats. The fire escape is not safe and there are holes in the facade (see photos). Tenants also report that the elevator breaks down frequently and they fear they could be evicted if they complain. Rents at the Brandiz are overpriced and tenants have to pay $125 more than welfare shelter rate ($375), leaving virtually no money for food and other basic needs. “We don’t want one slumlord trading off to another slumlord,” says Regent tenant Jack Gates. “It could make things worse here. Swapping slumlords is not going to do us any favours. The Brandiz Hotel has big problems like an elevator that breaks down all the time, holes in the wall, rats, mice, roaches and bedbugs. They charge $10-$20 for guest fees and too much for rent.”
Jay Slaunwhite who lives at the Balmoral across the street from the Regent and Brandiz, doesn’t want Brandiz management to take over the Regent either. “Ultimately I’m afraid the Brandiz owners might take over the Balmoral too. We are also putting pressure on the Sahotas and we don’t want them to think they can escape their responsibilities by leasing to another slumlord..” Well over 400 people live in the three hotels.
“We can’t afford to lose any more hotels,” said Lama Mugabo from the Carnegie Community Action Project. “The homeless situation is already obscene. Our community is sick of slumlords. We want the city and province to step up and do their jobs. The City could do the repairs and bill the owners and force them to hire professional qualified non profit management to take over these buildings and fix them up without evicting tenants. The Province could at a minimum help ensure that tenants don’t have to pay more than they can afford on welfare. Better yet, they could buy them and renovate them like the Maple and the Roosevelt Hotels, that are beautiful and are also on this block.”
See attached photos and click here for more photos of the Brandiz Hotel.