A Vancouver Island landlord who evicted a dying woman from a Nanaimo home earlier this year has been ordered to pay nearly $18,000 for his actions.
Investigators became aware of the story through CHEK’s coverage back in March. In a newly released report, investigators ruled the landlord deliberately contravened the Residential Tenancy Act when he cut off the senior’s heat and power, locked her out of the unit, and left her scrambling to find a home.
In a 22-page decision, B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Compliance and Enforcement unit found the landlord, Duart Rapton, did not have the grounds to evict senior Sharon Kowalchuk from her home.
“My landlord just came up and told me I need to move,” she told CHEK News on March 2.
At the time, Kowalchuk, who had a terminal illness, said she was given a two-week eviction notice because her medical treatment was causing “disturbances” on the property.
“Because I’ve had ambulances come,” she said.
CHEK News tried to speak with Rapton at the time, but was met with shouts to leave.
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- MARCH 2, 2023: Dying Nanaimo woman evicted without cause, left without heat and power
The story caught the attention of B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon. In March, he said he instructed the Residential Tenancy Branch to investigate if Rapton had in fact violated the tenancy act.
According to the recent decision, he did violate the act – not once, but six times – as he attempted to enforce the “illegal eviction.”
The offences fell under six sections of the tenancy act, including:
- Section 44(1) Ending of a tenancy
- Section 27(1) Terminating or restricting services or facilities
- Section 26(3) Rules about payment and non-payment of rent
- Section 30(1) Tenants right of access protected
- Section 31(1)(1.1) Prohibition on changing of locks and other access
- Section 28 Protection of tenants right to quiet enjoyment
Each of the six offences comes with its own penalty, ranging from $2,700 to $6,000. In total, the fines amount to $17,600.
The RTB says its investigators tried to contact and warn Rapton about his illegal actions, but say he refused to take any steps to correct his contraventions and come into compliance with the tenancy act.
In August, Rapton filed a defamation lawsuit against CHEK News, calling the coverage “untrue news” that damaged his reputation.
CHEK responded and stands by its reporting, and tried to reach Rapton again Thursday but did not receive a response.
As for Kowalchuk, she was able to find a new home thanks to an online fundraising campaign launched by the community that raised tens of thousands of dollars.
She died on Sept. 22 “surrounded by loved ones,” according to her support worker Shawn Nickerson.
“It’s because of all of you that she was able to live out her final days in peace with a roof over her head,” he wrote on the fundraising page. “Words could never express how thankful we are for all of you.”
CHEK News was able to reach the housing minister Thursday. Kahlon says the RTB’s decision should serve as a reminder to landlords that there are rules and they need to be followed.
Rapton has until Nov. 17 to pay the penalties.
With files from CHEK’s Kori Sidaway and Skye Ryan