CORNWALL, Ontario – Mississauga based Bedford Properties and Estates Ltd. issued eviction notices to approximately 100 tenants living at Cumberland Gardens on Cumberland St. in Cornwall on Saturday, Feb. 26.
“You may be aware that the building has been in disrepair for many years,” reads the eviction letter sent to all tenants. “Therefore, we have no choice but to terminate your lease effective June 30, 2022. Attached you will see the appropriate N9 and N13 form issued by the Landlord Tenant Board.”
Residents living in Cumberland Gardens were shocked and upset at the news they received Saturday. Social media in Cornwall was soon flooded with messages from those looking for support and direction on what to do next.
Seaway News spoke to some of the tenants living in Cumberland Gardens.
“It is still hard to talk about,” said Madison Bennett, who has lived in a four-bedroom apartment in Cumberland Gardens since 2020. “I just think of the residents who have lived here for 20 years and have raised their families here.”
Bennett explained that from her perspective, the buildings at Cumberland Gardens were not in such a state of disrepair as to require the eviction of tenants. She explained that in fact, her apartment had brand new floors put in when she moved in in 2020.
Bennett expressed concerns over whether tenants living in Cumberland Gardens will be able to find new homes to rent. She said that after a quick search on Sunday, she found 74 units available for rent in Cornwall.
“They are going to have to pay so much more for a place for their families,” she said. “This isn’t right.”
Bennett said that she and her family would be moving out of Cumberland Gardens as soon as possible.
“I don’t feel comfortable living in a place with a landlord that would do this to so many people,” she said.
Fred LeBlanc, another resident of Cumberland Gardens who lives in a unit with his 14-year-old grandson said that he was terrified when he heard the news of the eviction.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do next,” he said.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act (2006) a landlord is only required to offer three months rent compensation if they try to terminate the lease early. For one Cumberland Gardens resident, that would equal out to $2,814.36, but Bedford has stated that they will pay $4,000 to anyone who ends their lease by April 30.
Residents however might not be aware that by accepting this money they could be losing out on some of their rights, including the right of first refusal.
A tenant has right of first refusal if they give a notice to the landlord in writing of their intention to return to the residential unit.
“A tenant who exercises a right of first refusal may reoccupy the rental unit at a rent that is no more than what the landlord could have lawfully charged if there had been no interruption in the tenant’s tenancy,” the Residential Tenancies Act (2006) reads.
Bedford, who purchased Cumberland Gardens in late 2021 did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Seaway News reached out to the Cornwall SDG Human Services Department for comment.
“Our department has a couple of programs that may provide some financial assistance to help tenants in this situation, however, they would need to meet eligibility criteria. We are, however, encouraging tenants to first contact the legal clinic to get an understanding of their legal rights,” said Mellissa Morgan, Administrator for the Cornwall SDG Human Services Department.
Both tenants of Cumberland Gardens that Seaway News spoke with said that Legal Aid was in contact with some of the residents and that they would be providing information on their rights as tenants at an upcoming meeting.
The current waitlist for social housing with the Cornwall SDG Human Services Department is between two-to-four years.