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‘Notorious’ Vancouver landlord surfaces after warrants, wanted posters issued

Whitney Brown and Andrew O'Sullivan from the Pivot Legal Society hang wanted posters of George Wolsey at Main and Hastings streets in Vancouver September 4, 2013. George Wolsey a landlord who currently owes a total of $18,163.75 to 10 different residents of the Wonder Rooms SRO.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The man Metro Vancouver tenant advocacy groups call a notorious landlord has turned himself in after 10 civil warrants were issued for his arrest.

Pivot Legal Society says George Wolsey appeared in provincial court in Vancouver on Sept. 9 and has been ordered to return on Oct. 21 as he arranges payment of more than $18,000 owed to 10 tenants of a squalid hotel he used to own on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Pivot lawyer D.J. Larkin says Wolsey surrendered after the court issued the civil warrants Sept. 4, and the legal advocacy group backed up that measure by handing out "Wanted" posters publicizing Wolsey's refusal to pay damages assessed this spring by B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch.

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The tenancy branch set the amount after determining tenants endured infestations of cockroaches and bed bugs and faced serious risk to their health and safety while living in the Wonder Rooms SRO Hotel, which Wolsey sold last year.

Larkin says Wolsey's surrender is a huge victory for the tenants who began fighting for improved conditions in the building more than two years ago but were stymied when Wolsey ignored city-issued clean-up orders, defied the dispute process, skipped court dates and failed to pay outstanding debts.

Larkin says Pivot will continue efforts to get the tenant's money, but he also called on the residential tenancy branch to take a more proactive approach so tenants don't have to issue "Wanted" posters in future, just to get a landlord's attention.

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