Burnaby renter ended up in ‘glorified closet’ in landlord’s bait-and-switch scam

Agreement did not specify that renter would get the unit he was shown

A Burnaby renter says he ended up in a 'glorified closet' after a landlord switched things up at the last minute | Photo: Contributed

A Burnaby renter says he will get more specifics in writing before he rents another place to live.

That’s because he fell for a bait-and-switch scam in which the part of a house he thought he was renting was switched at the last second and there’s little he can do to stop it.

Jessie F. is a Burnaby tenant who was excited to move into a basement suite in an Edmonds-area house that has been renovated to include several different units of varying sizes.

“I had been looking for a long time and felt like I had finally found a decent place in an old house after seeing so many bad rentals,” he said.

Some of the units are tiny, but Jessie was shown the largest suite. Jessie felt like he had impressed the landlord, but was told there was a “long line” of people looking to rent it.

“I wasn’t surprised because the number of available rentals that aren’t awful seems to have dropped,” he said.

After filling out the paperwork and having two more conversations with the landlord, Jessie was finally told that he was successful in winning the bid to move in.

A few weeks later, Jessie had organized help for the move, packed up all of the boxes and arrived at the door of his new home. But things didn’t go as planned.

“The landlord said he ended up renting the larger suite to someone else who was willing to pay 10% more in rent,” Jessie said. “I would have been willing to go up but was never offered the chance. The landlord took me to one of the tiny spaces, which was a glorified closet that had been fitted with a Murphy bed. There was no locked door, only a partition to add some privacy. I was told I would have to share the bathroom with other tenants.”

There was a tiny fridge and sink, plus a sort of hot plate for cooking.

Jessie was pretty angry, but – like others who have shared their stories with me – was told to “take it or leave it.” Jessie frantically looked over his lease and it only said a “suite” at the address and didn’t specify private bathroom facilities.

“I just assumed that was included because of what he showed me,” Jessie said.

Most of my stuff doesn’t fit in here and so I’ve had to pay for storage,” he said. “I’m now looking for a new place to live. People should be warned about this stuff.”

Burnaby Now