Notorious Maple Ridge landlord selling rental properties

Jack Athwal says he is selling his rental properties in Maple Ridge. - The News/Files
Jack Athwal says he is selling his rental properties in Maple Ridge.
— image credit: The News/Files

A notorious Maple Ridge landlord, accused of plotting a murder last year, claims he is getting out of the property rental business, while still facing a string of civil lawsuits as banks and building stratas try to recoup money he owes them.

"I am selling everything, just keeping my house," said Jagdev 'Jack' Singh Athwal.

"I've had enough of the rental business."

Athwal claims the lawsuits are all part of a plot to put him out of business.

In 2012 alone, Scotia Mortgage Corporation, Super Save Disposal, CIBC Mortgage, three strata councils, Khalsa Credit Union and Gordon Towers filed civil suits against Athwal.

The strata council of Gordon Towers – the high-rise building at the centre of the murder plot allegations – has also asked the courts to allow the sale of one of Athwal's units without his consent in an effort to recover money he owns them.

Police allege Athwal counselled one of his tenants to murder a man who managed the high-rise, located on 222nd Street at Dewdney Trunk Road.

Athwal claims he is selling all the properties he owns in Maple Ridge, including six units in Gordon Towers.

A council report pegged the number of rental units he owns in Maple Ridge at 30.

"I'm not feeling very good," said Athwal.

"I am getting pretty old. My health is not good."

The District of Maple Ridge has yet to clarify why Athwal has continued to rent out apartments and homes without a business licence. It revoked Athwal's licence in 2009 after repeated problems with one of the properties he owned - Northumberland Court townhomes on Fraser Street that has since been demolished.

The district said that the business license was "site-specific."

Athwal, however, is suing the district to recoup money he claims he lost for being "forced" to sell Northumberland Court.

The lawsuit, filed in April, last year alleges the district's actions caused "substantial and irreparable financial harm" to Athwal.

He claims the district intervened and "directed" the Ministry of Social Development to stop issuing rent cheques to his tenants.

Without rent, Athwal maintains he was "forced" to sell Northumberland Court at a "substantially discounted" market rate.

The lawsuit claims the district and its agents "acted in a high-handed and oppressive manner, with malice and intent" to hurt him financially.

He said the district prohibited him from dealing with his tenants and required him to get a business license, an action that was "unjustified" and "wrongful."

"The district is not very friendly with me," Athwal said Tuesday.

"Look what they did on 224th Street."

Mayor Ernie Daykin and bylaw director Liz Holitzki did not return calls for comment on the status of Athwal's business dealings in Maple Ridge.

Last year, though, district staff recommended a change to a bylaw that would require anyone who rents out more than one property to apply for a business licence. Staff are also compiling a list of owners who operate more than one rental property in the municipality.

A staff report on the proposed changes was expected last fall, but has yet to be presented to council.

Besides the civil suits, Athwal currently faces trial on two criminal matters. The first involves the murder plot at Gordon Towers, which is set to go to trial in December. He also faces one count each of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm and criminal harassment for threats against another tenant.

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