Editor’s Note: Any tenant who is being evicted by their landlord for the sake of renovations has a right to first refusal. If the tenant tells the landlord in writing that they intent to return to the unit, the landlord must offer them the first right of refusal AT THEIR ORIGINAL RENTAL RATE. Note: As a tenant be careful when signing any agreements with or accepting any payment from a landlord who intends to evict you for the sake of renovations. It may void your right to first refusal.
CORNWALL, Ontario – On the week of March 25, both Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant and Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan released statements in reaction to the “renovictions” at Cumberland Gardens.
At the end of February, the tenants living in the 100 units that comprise Cumberland Gardens received notices from their landlord, Bedford Properties & Estates Ltd. that they were being evicted so that renovations could be done to the property.
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In a statement released by Mayor Grant on Friday, March 25 he acknowledged the anger that the situation at Cumberland Gardens has generated in the community.
“The news stemming from Cumberland Gardens earlier this month has led to widespread anger throughout the community,” he said. “As Mayor and resident of our City, I want to stress that the City of Cornwall will continue to aid residents facing housing challenges through various programs which includes short-term rent supplements, rental assistance, utility assistance, moving costs and short-term storage costs. Our Human Services Department has a dedicated team committed to working with social assistance recipients to guide them through the potential impacts to their budgets. Tenants are asked to call their Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) worker directly to discuss their situation further.”
On March 22, MP Duncan released an open letter addressed to Bedford after stating his repeated attempts to contact them went unanswered.
“As you may imagine, a mass eviction of this magnitude in a small city like Cornwall has many of your tenants worried and filled with anxiety. The simple fact that you chose not to engage or work with local community leaders on a reasonable plan to relieve this unnecessary anxiety speaks volumes about your priorities and your shallow value set,” Duncan’s letter reads. “In the midst of this unprecedented pressure on rental and housing markets, your selfish, short-sighted and shameful actions could force dozens of local families into unsafe living conditions. At worst, these families would be homeless. Mass-evicting all units at the same time is absurd, heartless, and completely unnecessary,” Duncan’s letter goes on to read.
Duncan went on in his letter to accuse Bedford of putting profits over people.
“I will be blunt and fully transparent about what your true goals appear to be: you are doing business this way not to prioritize the renovation of Cumberland Gardens or improve the standard of living of your residents, but to prioritize your profits. Allegations of misleading and bullying tactics towards your tenants into ending their leases so you can increase the price of rent, and make more money, is a blatant attempt at a “reno-viction” scheme,” Duncan’s statement reads. “Your strategy, especially by refusing to talk to local officials on a reasonable plan for your tenants, is obvious and it’s shameful. I firmly believe the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board will see right through your carelessness, use the existing provincial laws in place to protect against this, and order a staggered renovation schedule rather than a mass eviction all at one time.”
Duncan concluded his letter by inviting Bedford to come and discuss the situation with him.
Housing Program: to determine if they are eligible for housing-related programs administered by the City, tenants need to apply for assistance through the Housing Programs Division. They can do so by calling 613-933-6282 ext. 3315 to request an application/appointment or can go online for further information at https://www.cornwall.ca/en/live-here/social-housing-division.aspx.