TENANTS in Wingham, Ont., are fighting renovations by setting up camp outside their homes as new landlords abruptly increase rents following renovations.
Former driving instructor Julie Hamilton from Canada has been evicted from her apartment since January due to renovation work by her new landlord.
Hamilton’s temporary stay in a motel ended before the summer and she had to pitch a tent just yards from her apartment.
she said CTV News in July: “Now, six months later, nothing has been done except that the doorknobs and locks have been replaced and none of us have new keys to get into our apartments.”
Hamilton, who suffers from a brain injury, is on disability income and has been for two decades.
She has lived in the block of flats on William Street for six years, but has no idea what her future holds.
Problems arose when new landlords bought her building and another across the street.
Suddenly, last November, the eight tenants received eviction notices for carrying out renovation work.
These were expected to last five to six weeks, and tenants were able to return without any changes to their $600 monthly rent.
However, tenants have since been told they will have to cough up an extra $1,000 a month if they want to return to their homes.
Hamilton said: “We all have a two-bedroom apartment.” [but] Now he has decided that it is no longer the same unit we live in as he can convert it into a one bedroom apartment.
“So if we want to come back, due to the fact that it is a new device, a new price will prevail and we will be looking at $1,600 per month.”
An apartment that was left vacant after renovation already charges new tenants the higher fee, but existing residents like Hamilton say that’s an impossible price to pay if you’re on a fixed income.
Tenant Trish Schwehr told the news outlet: “It’s terribly stressful, frustrating, makes me angry.”
Meanwhile, the chances of them moving elsewhere are incredibly slim, as the waiting list for income housing is more than five years and there are no other affordable rental housing options.
Hamilton said the motel where she stayed during renovations was fully booked for the summer, so she ended up in a tent.
Her landlord is now trying to remove her tent and porta potty from the property for health and safety reasons.
“The big corporations coming in and buying up buildings like ours in every small town in Canada are not being fair,” Hamilton said.
“We have nowhere to go. There is nothing more affordable for us. The rents have all been pushed up, and that’s unfair.”
“The poor are poor and are getting poorer.”
Schwehr, who has called her apartment home for 14 years, added, “I just want people to know that this isn’t right.”
“That you kill more of us humans than you really need, we also have a right to live here.”
“I just don’t know where I’m going to go,” Hamilton said.
The US Sun has reached out to Nick Sarai, owner of VRS Property Management in Caledon, for comment.
Meanwhile, other Canadians joined the tenants in commenting on the news article.
“It’s the same story across the country. We need laws NOW to prevent this from happening,” one person said.
Another explained that they may face a similar future.
He wrote: “I may have to live in a tent as there will be no affordable housing left as I begin my retirement.”
“A two-man tent for $300 is more in my retirement price range than a one-bedroom apartment for $1,600 here in Hamilton, Ontario.”
“We need rent control or something where landlords can’t raise prices as much as they want every year,” a third added.