News / Vancouver

Tenants' hopes of new management at Vancouver's "worst" SROs dashed

Atira was set to take over operations at the Balmoral and Regent, but says the landlord backed out

The City of Vancouver is attempting to fine the owner of the Regent Hotel for hundreds building and fire violations.

Jennifer Gauthier / Metro

The City of Vancouver is attempting to fine the owner of the Regent Hotel for hundreds building and fire violations.

Tenants in the Downtown Eastside’s Regent and Balmoral hotels are left in limbo after the landlords backed out at the last minute from a deal that would have seen Atira Property Management take over operations at the single-room occupancy hotels.
“I’m really disappointed. It really hurts,” said Jack Gates, a tenant at the Regent since 2014.
He explained many non-tenants are allowed to stay at the hotel, resulting in a chaotic building where physical altercations are common.

"There are a lot of women and people that are in addiction and that are handicapped that are being abused here. If Atira was in there full time, I do have hope that they would take total control of what’s going on and no one will get away with stuff like that.”
The city is currently prosecuting the Sahota family, who own both buildings, in court on 426 building and fire bylaw violations. City staff previously named the two hotels the "worst" SROs in Vancouver, and the city shut down the Balmoral Hotel last June due to fears the building could collapse.
A spokesperson for Atira confirmed to Metro that the organization has been in talks with the Sahota family for the past two years about taking over the management of two of the Regent and the Balmoral. The contract was set to take effect Monday and Atira had posted a notice at the Regent last week advising tenants of the change. 
But the management switch has been called off – the Sahotas did not finalize the deal over the weekend as expected, an Atira spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Metro called a phone number listed at the Sahota's residence but the person who answered said they were busy and hung up when Metro identified themselves as a reporter.
Gates was shocked when Metro told him about the last minute decision. He had been looking forward to what he hoped would have been a different management style at the Regent.
“We really need to get new management in here, whole new staff – everything,” he said.
Wendy Pedersen, a community organizer who advocates on behalf of the tenants, said up to a third of people in the Regent are not tenants but instead pay staff an hourly rate to use the rooms, bathrooms, or hallways. Gates says that number is even higher.
Atira planned to ban non-tenants from the building for 30 days once it took over, according to a notice they posted at the Regent last week. The notice has since been taken down.

The city says it has been working with the Sahota family and Atira to help them understand the outstanding violations and scope of required renovations to both the Regent and the Balmoral.

"If there is an arrangement that forms between the owners and a non-profit operator that can help improve the status of the Regent, the city would see that as a positive development," a spokesperson said in an email statement.

The Balmoral currently sits empty. A spokesperson from Atira said the organization is still in talks with the Sahotas to solidify a property management deal.

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