Man, 84, evicted for bedbugs in block plagued with pests

Ben Trimble’s Vancouver apartment block has had a bedbug problem for several years. So when a pest-control inspector arrived to look over his apartment, he let him in.

“He pulls out a flashlight just bigger than a penlight [and shines it at] a crack along a chair, and within two seconds says you’ve got bedbugs,” Trimble said.

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“What am I supposed to say, no? [That] I’m surprised? I mean I’ve had six inspections. So I probably said something like: ‘Oh yeah, sure.’

“He goes back to management and tells them that I knew I had bedbugs. Well Christ, I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Of course I knew there was bedbugs. At least I had a pretty good idea I had bugs.

“So they come and say: ‘Because you did not tell us, we have no recourse but to give you 30 days’ notice.’ ”

Trimble appealed to the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch, but had waited more than the allotted 10 days to make the appeal, so it was dismissed by arbitrator R. Weitzel. Trimble will be evicted July 31, two weeks after he turned 84 years old.

Trimble is baffled. “There was something like 13 apartments that had bedbugs that started this whole thing,” he said.

The building, at 605 SE Marine Dr., is owned by Fraser Marine Drive Holdings, a branch of the property giant Peterson, which also bought a sister building at 695 SE Marine for $11.75 million in 2013.

Peterson has been trying to rid the buildings of a persistent problem with bedbugs and mice (the online “Bedbug Registry” had four complaints about 605 Marine and five about 695 Marine dating to 2008).

Trimble said his suite has been inspected six times and fumigated five times in recent years.

In an email, Peterson’s Vira Prykodko said the company it hired to deal with the pest problem “has advised that they are unable to stop the spread of bedbugs to the other suites if this tenant does not change his behaviour.

“Pest Control Services [have] pointed out some tenant-related issues in this suite, citing them as a contributing factor to recurring infestation in this unit.”

Trimble works part-time at a recycling depot on Ontario Street.

“I clean what they call ‘toters,’ which are large garbage cans on wheels that are placed at various spots,” he said.

“There’s a lot of trash and broken bottles in the bottom of these things, so I clean them out.”

Jane Mayfield of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre was surprised to hear that Trimble had lost his appeal.

“It sounds like if he had someone representing him, he probably could have made some good arguments as to why he shouldn’t be evicted,” she said.

“Because it sounds like it’s an ongoing problem with the building, [and] it’s very hard to prove who brings bedbugs in. It’s rare that tenants are evicted because a landlord is claiming they brought them in, just because it’s so hard to prove, especially in an apartment building — they could be coming from anywhere.”

Trimble is well-known in the car business and used to own Gordon Rae Clutch Rebuilders. But he suffered some financial setbacks, which led to his current predicament.

Where’s he going to live come July 31? He doesn’t know.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said.

“I’m versatile enough that I can rent some space for storage, that takes care of everything. Then I’ll just go rent a room somewhere.”

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