COURTENAY, B.C. -- A Comox Valley couple is rejoicing now that they're finally able to move back into their home after an extended dispute with their former tenant.

Gunn and Kirk Yardley had rented out their fully furnished Courtenay home for what was expected to be a six-month term while they were out of the country. The couple claim the tenant stopped paying rent and utilities on the property, and then was refusing to vacate despite an order from B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch and a court decision saying the tenant had to leave.

The couple says government restrictions during COVID-19 prevented them from evicting the man, but they were finally able to do so Wednesday morning with the help of a bailiff.

"We're thrilled to be back home. We haven't had enough time to really assess how joyous it feels. It's been a long, long haul," Gunn Yardley says.

The seniors ended up having to "couch surf" and rent a tiny-home since they could not get back into their property. Kirk Yardley also says he was prevented by the tenant from accessing his own yard and shed full of tools.

"I'm glad to see that things are moving ahead for some of the landlords. There's been absolutely no help from the government," Gunn says.

The couple believe they are out-of-pocket for seven months of rent along with lawyer fees, moving expenses and bailiff charges totaling in excess of $16,000.

"Because of the COVID, they changed the situation where I couldn't even come on my land," Kirk says. "So, not only did they deprive me of my home and the rent, but they also deprived me of my tools, so I couldn't go to work without buying new tools."

The couple has been told it's their responsibility to try to collect those fees from their previous tenant, but they believe - since the government prevented them and other landlords from evicting non-rent-paying tenants - that the province should go after outstanding rents on their behalf.

"I'm hoping that the landlords will now unite and go after the government to collect the rent for us," she says.

Eviction restrictions are supposed to ease up in September, but Bailiff Peter Innes says the move has already started.

"The backlog is fairly high from pre-COVID, so they have opened it to it and it's been pretty much one a day for us and I know there's other bailiffs around so it's picking up all over," Innes says.