A Metro Vancouver mother says her life has become "nothing short of a living hell" since new tenants moved in above her last year.
The 57-year-old woman, who we will call Mary, has been living in the same suite in Surrey with her 19-year-old daughter for nearly seven years; it wasn't until the new tenants moved in upstairs in September 2021 that she's had any problems. The names of the parties involved in the story have been changed to protect their privacy.
Over Christmas, Mary says the couple renting the unit above her left their two dogs alone for approximately two days. "I believed they were in distress, due to the constant crying and howling day and night," she tells Vancouver Is Awesome.
"They claimed they had someone watching the dogs, but I knew this not to be true. I wasn't working over the Christmas Holidays, and I didn't hear any signs that anyone had been upstairs for at least two days."
After this, on Dec. 30 at 5:30 a.m, Mary was taking her dog through the common area backyard for a walk, when the male tenant, who we will call James, asked her if she was the woman who lived downstairs. When she confirmed that she was, he began threatening her, yelling "I'm going to run you through fu**ing cu*t!"
Police attended the property and informed her that it was "unsafe" to live there, according to Mary. And, sometime in January, she says she called police again when she heard what sounded like a physical domestic dispute.
"Police called me back and informed me at that time that male tenant wasn't supposed to be on or anywhere near the property," she describes. "I took this to mean that the female tenant upstairs had a restraining order against him."
The restraining order was later cancelled and the tenant remained at the property.
Mary says on Feb. 13, James threw a 50 lbs. bag of firewood over a six-foot fence that hit her in the forehead causing her to suffer an eight-centimetre gash and a concussion. "If [the firewood] hadn't hit me where it did, there is a good chance I wouldn't be alive today."
Mary's daughter, who we will call Penelope, recorded the assault. Police recommended charges of assault with a weapon and James was released on strict conditions.
The day after the assault, Mary recorded James in her backyard allegedly "attempting to alter the gate" so she couldn't use it.
Vancouver Is Awesome has verified with Surrey RCMP that police recommended charges of assault with a weapon. In that recording, he is allegedly heard saying: "she should just die, she should just fuc**ng already."
According to her landlord, the tenants haven't paid rent since January. Mary states that the landlord immediately applied for an Emergency Order to Evict with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) after she told her about the assault.
"My daughter was a witness [in the RTB hearing] and the arbitrator barely gave her a minute to talk," she adds, noting that the couple allegedly did not provide any evidence.
While they admitted to not paying rent since January, James' girlfriend argued that the couple withheld payment because the water was not clean and the dryer didn't work. Mary disputes those claims, based on her own personal experience as a tenant at the property.
However, the RTB denied the landlord's application for an emergency order of eviction.
Mary has since been looking for somewhere to live."Every place I find that is suitable is 'No Pets.' We have two small dogs."
In the meanwhile, Mary says James continues to live above her. "This is a living nightmare. I hate going home. I shake. When I get close to my house I start shaking because I don't know what is going to be there."
The Surrey renter adds that she feels the RTB has failed to protect her family.
"I hope if anything happens to me or my daughter, someone is able to hold them accountable."