The province needs to amend its Residential Tenancy Act after a Vancouver man admitted to subletting his one-bedroom apartment to five international students to make a profit, says one local MLA.
David Messina, who has sublet several condo units in Vancouver, is not paying his landlord rent, and some of his former sublet tenants say he’s never returned their deposits.
Jenny Kwan, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, said yesterday that Messina is “exploiting the system” and the Ministry of Housing needs to amend any loopholes in the Act that allow for this kind of situation.
“Subletting in and of itself to re-rent, there’s nothing wrong with that in most instances,” Kwan said.
“But people usually don’t to it … as a business, and this instance is injuring both the landlord and the tenants.”
Elisabeth Fox, who owns the 570-square-foot condo, told CBC News that Messina hasn’t paid his $1,500 rent in months and when the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB) tried to evict him, he appealed the decision, buying more time.
According to RTB records, Messina was evicted from two other apartments — where he had also been subletting the suite — for not paying rent.
Messina, who has a criminal record that includes fraud, told CBC News that he makes about $1.2 million a year in his sublet operation.
Vancouver Police Const. Jana McGuiness said because Messina isn’t breaking a law, their hands are tied.
Kwan said if the government were to amend the act to forbid subletting for profit and attach penalties to the Act it would protect people like Fox and other sublet tenants.
One of the sublet tenants, Hyojin Jang, told CBC News that students like him are vulnerable to this kind of situation because they have limited English skills and money, and they don’t know their rights.