'I can imagine people getting sick': East Vancouver apartment tenants without heat, hot water

Some tenants in an East Vancouver rental building have had a cold and uncomfortable Christmas week. 

Tenants living at 807 East 6th Avenue say they have not had heat or hot water since the boiler broke down on Dec. 22. 

Resident Shelly Vickers says she has been showering and staying at friends' homes, as well as using a space heater when she's in the chilly apartment. Some of her plants and pet fish have died already and she's worried about her cat.

"Slowly it got colder and colder. On Christmas Eve, I contacted the landlord. He said the boiler was looked at and that was all the information we had," said Vickers. 

Another resident, Candice Daku, says that while she believes building management is responding to the boiler issue, it could have been avoided. There have been issues with hot water in the past.

"They could have maybe fixed it a little bit sooner so that we wouldn't be in this predicament over Christmas," said Daku.

CBC News

Tenant Stephen Caffray says he has had to boil water for the past week in order to wash. While Vancouver's mild weather means his apartment is not as cold as it would be in other cities without a boiler, he is worried. There are people of all ages living in the complex, including babies. 

"I can imagine people getting sick, especially the elderly and the young."

Caffray says there have been many problems like this at the complex over the years.

"It's in pretty bad repair. It's not really maintained properly," said Caffray. 

"I have friends and family over, it's Christmas, and they come to a place that's freezing and it looks like you live in the slums. It's kind of embarrassing,"

On Friday CBC News contacted Boundary Management, the building manager, about the boiler issue and was told the problem was being "dealt with."

On Sunday the management company said that workers would be on-site on Monday to begin installing a new boiler. 

CBC News

The building's history

The complex's landlord, Zen Properties, has been cited before by Vancouver fire department for safety violations. The building has also been on the bedbug registry list for Metro Vancouver in the past.

Building 807 is connected to building 801. Both wings of the complex are owned by the same landlord.

The tenants of 801 East 6th Ave. have previously complained multiple times to building management — of black mould, bed bugs and cockroaches, leaking ceilings and even intruders sleeping in the complex's underground parking lot. 

CBC News

Michelle Louise has lived at 807 East 6th Avenue for five years. She says the owner of the building has been kind to her and is concerned about the residents.

"He said he wanted to get some space heaters. He wanted to get some showers open on the other side of the building because he replaced the boiler on the other side already. And they're working on it like crazy to get it fixed. He's a nice guy. He's fine by me," Louise said. 

"The building is very old, and it's difficult to find the parts here. It takes time."