Wanted: George Wolsey - Court issues warrants for the arrest of notorious Vancouver slumlord
Using the law as a catalyst for positive social change, Pivot Legal Society works to improve the lives of marginalized communities.
For Immediate Release
September 4, 2013
Vancouver – Pivot Legal Society will be holding a press conference this morning, September 4th, at 10am, to announce that it has secured 10 warrants for the arrest of George Wolsey. The notorious landlord currently owes a total of $18,163.75 to 10 different residents of the Wonder Rooms SRO.
Wolsey's former tenants, who endured rampant infestations, serious risks to health and safety and unliveable conditions, were awarded damages by the Residential Tenancy Branch this spring. Throughout the dispute process, Wolsey has failed to appear at court dates, has refused service of documents, and has made no effort to pay the outstanding debts.
"The accounts we have heard from tenants of the way they were treated by Mr. Wolsey and the conditions of the hotels are just astonishing" stated Douglas King, lawyer with Pivot Legal Society. "Cockroaches, bedbugs, holes in the walls; sadly the Wonder and Palace hotels will probably always represent the worst of Vancouver's SRO housing crisis".
The fact that Wolsey has evaded both Residential Tenancy Branch and court processes for such an extended period of time raises very serious access to justice issues for marginalized residents.
“Without the help of lawyers, advocates and volunteers, these individuals will never actually be compensated. The Residential Tenancy Branch needs to take initiative to investigate landlords who are shown to be the worst of the worst, and the city needs to keep proactively ensuring that landlords are maintaining their properties,” says DJ Larkin, the lawyer with Pivot Legal Society who yesterday brought the application for the warrants against Wolsey.
Since complaints against Wolsey were first raised by VANDU, Pivot, and the Carnegie Community Action Project, the City of Vancouver has implemented a Rental Standards Database which reveals which buildings have outstanding maintenance issues. It is not clear however whether or not this database has been effective in changing the behaviours of Vancouver’s worst landlords, and Pivot is urging the City to continue placing pressure on deficient landlords.
Pivot has prepared this backgrounder on the cases against Wolsey, and speakers at the press conference will explain the next steps to be taken against Mr. Wolsey, including the use of “wanted posters” to bring Mr. Wolsey to justice.
Copies of the City of Vancouver's enforcement reports on the Wonder and Palace can be found here and here.
What: Press Conference on the Wonder/Palace hotels
When: Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 10am
Where: Pivot Legal Society, 121 Heatley Avenue, Vancouver
Who: Pivot lawyers Douglas C. King and DJ Larkin, Laura Shaver from VANDU, and former residents of the Wonder/Palace hotels
Douglas C. King, Lawyer, Pivot Legal Society
DJ Larkin, Lawyer, Pivot Legal Society