Mary Milligan no longer has to choose between her beloved cat, Niko, and her home after the B.C. Tenancy Board ruled her landlord can’t evict her for having a pet.
The west-end resident, along with a half dozen neighbours at Emerald Terrace apartment, said they were told by Hollyburn Properties in December to give up their feline companions or find a new home.
“You can’t believe the relief,” Milligan said on Monday, of learning the board sided in her favour. “I’m so happy to have this off my shoulders … I was thinking, ‘Where am I going to go?’”
Some residents claim the eviction notices were an attempt to oust longtime tenants, many of whom are elderly, so rents could be increased.
Andrew Simmons, a seven-year resident of the building who has three cats, said it helped to have strength in numbers.
“We were a large group so we banded together,” Simmons said. “(But) there are lot of individuals who face the same situation, who don’t have the support we had … Most people would find it easier to move.”
Simmons said the victory belongs not just to Hollyburn residents, but all tenants.
“It’s important for people to see that we can fight things like this,” he said.
Rebeka Breder, a lawyer with Boughton Law Corporation who served as council for the pet owners, said the win sends a message that pets aren’t just property, “but important members of our family and provide comfort.”
Spencer Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-Burrard, added that until there’s legislation to protect renters from what he calls unjustified evictions, situations like this will continue.
“I have one cat and I’m a renter (in the west end), so this could just have been my story as well,” he said.