November 7, 2020 6:38am
A lawyer with the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic is warning tenants that they have rights and should exercise them before panic sets in.
A tenant in Chatham received a notice in June to leave her apartment by October 31 so the Toronto landlord can renovate it. The woman, who doesn’t want her name made public for fear it will create prejudice in future moves, told Blackburn News she had to call the police because the landlord tried to illegally change the locks at her apartment on Halloween night. The situation was resolved and officers told the landlord he had to give her a key to the new locks but she remains in limbo waiting for a tenant tribunal board hearing to hear her case.
The new property managers in Windsor said that it could take a year because of a “massive backlog” at the board. Marda Property Management Operations Manager Judy Kaake also said the tenant in question can stay and “isn’t required to vacate” the unit until the board orders her to.
Kaake admits it’s “not a great time” for renovations because of the pandemic but added the tenant can return to the apartment when they’re done, at the same rent.
The tenant’s lawyer Rashin Alizadeh-Dimeski said she has been told by her client the rent would almost double to market value. Alizadeh-Dimeski said tenants in this type of situation should remain calm and get legal advice because it can get very stressful. Alizadeh-Dimeski said tenants shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and get legal advice, including calling the provincial Rental Enforcement Unit to resolve disputes and get educated.
“I cannot imagine your home where you’re supposed to be comfortable, where you’re supposed to be safe is risked and put under threat where you don’t even feel comfortable in what is supposed to be your oasis,” said Alizadeh-Dimeski. “Any sort of wait is nerve-racking but there can be negotiations done even prior to a hearing, which may even get rid of the need to have a hearing where the issue is resolved between landlord and tenant.”
Alizadeh-Dimeski said an eviction can’t be enforced by the landlord, it can only be issued through the tenant/landlord board and enforced by the sheriff. The Chatham tenant thinks it is “absolutely reprehensible” that anyone would be threatening tenants during a pandemic with losing their home.
“Both the building owner and property manager have blatantly lied to my face and been misleading about the legal process of following an N13 [form] to evict a tenant,” she said.
More information about tenant and landlord rights can be found at the Tenant/Landlord Board website.