“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” —Edmund Burke
This website has been created by the BCLA to support and defend leaseholders in their interminable disputes with exploitive and authoritarian landlords. It is committed to the eradication of a serious injustice that arose in British Columbia during the early 1970’s but which is only now becoming widely perceived as a moral transgression of grave and far-reaching consequences. Ironically it could have been averted by the New Democratic Party at that time, had the requisite foresight been operative at its inception or the proper legislation already been in place. In fact no one—neither the real estate agents nor the lawyers serving their clients when the first 99-year residential lease appeared—was all that familiar with residential leasehold as a form of “home ownership”. A common occurrence elsewhere in the world it was virtually unknown in BC. Prospective leaseholders were suddenly faced with the emergence of a new and unfamiliar system of “strata” ownership—a prospect of which few had any practical experience. Consequently no one was adequately prepared for how injurious the newly introduced 99-year leases might be to unwary buyers. Although the NDP pleaded strenuously against these leases in the legislature it had not been possible for them to dissuade the Social Credit Government from countermanding their pleas. Without sufficient clarification of the terms of the Lease or the proper legislation set in place to protect leaseholders from potentially predatory property-owners this unconventional and implicitly repressive contract just barely squeaked into existence during a very brief window of opportunity. And its proponents have been arguing the legitimacy of its so-called “plain language” ever since. In the meantime, however, various legal precedents have arisen to protect leaseholders from the illicit transgressions endorsed by this Lease—precedents which the BC Leaseholders Association can now utilize with considerable potency.
In the early 70’s, as now, an apparent shortage of residential rental space had so inflated rents as to cause the BC government to impose strict but necessary rent controls. In a bid to buck government legislation a number of private corporate landlords under the banner of the May 1st 1974 Lease managed to get accepted an abstruse and blatantly exploitive standard form leasehold contract that in recent years has inflicted untold injury on the thousands of unfortunate leaseholders to whom it was proffered. This unfortunate circumstance occurred during a very brief but unforeseeable lapse of legislative vigilance. Those who naïvely signed that contract did so without clearly understanding either its veiled intent or its cunning methodology. As a result they have been forced to suffer its adverse effects under the sustained approval of a legal system fundamentally powerless to deal with its dubious legitimacy, much less countermand its obvious and various ills.
This website is intended to provide both a defence and a pre-emptive means to combat that Lease. The BCLA is determined to expose it and render ineffectual all those who still proffer and implement it. Above all, it will strive to reach out to all adversely effected leaseholders in BC and demonstrate to them that their plight—however much their adversaries may attempt to justify and perpetuate it by “legal” means—is an intolerable affront to public policy and common decency. This website intents to achieve that objective primarily in two ways.
First it will strive to enlighten leaseholders about their predicament by creating a fund of vital information for them to share, and providing a forum for them to interact and collectively oppose the directives of unscrupulous landlords. In this way it will convincingly demonstrate the flaws of a dubious contract that sorely needs to be brought under the scrutiny and governance of a responsible legislative agency. Augmenting the membership of the BCLA would immediately facilitate leaseholders by providing the wherewithal (through widespread dues and financial donations,) to overcome the stranglehold that these leasehold landlords have maintained in the courts, where they have so far had superior monetary advantage. Extending the BCLA’s reach to other leaseholders in the province will provide it and its supporters with greater credibility, financial backing and force.
In addition to providing information encouraging leaseholders to take informed legal action it will also promote the instigation of government legislation to advocate ethical protocols, adjudicate disputes and enforce policy that hinders illicit landlord behaviour. Only by enlightening all responsible court officials and persuading our politicians in the legislature will it be possible to exert sufficient influence to effect any significant change. Thus the BCLA’s second goal will be to convince those in power to take the plight of BC’s exploited leaseholders seriously. In order to do so it will focus expressly on all the above issues by:
a) making accessible to court officials, legislators and the general public all actual leasehold contracts, and explaining how their commonalities have impacted adversely on BC Leaseholders;
b) making available (and analyzing) court transcripts in which leaseholders have been unjustly defeated in civil actions against their adversaries;
c) making available by publishing (or linking,) all pertinent news articles that reflect adversely on the May 1st 1974 Lease or on those who have proffered and implemented it.
In essence the purpose of this website will be to provide abundant, easily verifiable confirmation of the inequity and abuse of power that now exists—the disclosure of which is intended to invoke official indignation and incite change.
This website is more than just a means to inform Leaseholders about the rules, regulations and restrictions of their leasehold contracts. It is a retaliation in force to the oppression imposed by the May 1st 1974 Lease and others like it. It is a weapon of self-defence against those who would abuse the law to exploit others. If used well it will prove an effective means to rectify what was wrong from the start. It will place leaseholders on an equal footing with their adversaries. The big leasehold landlords may have all the money but they do not have all the power. This website is a call to action. It was conceived as a means by which leaseholders might take a stand and recover their besieged autonomy and dignity. This website is how we fight back.