Annex Tenants Still in Limbo After 2019 Renoviction
Geordie Dent, Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations
In 2019, tenants living at 11 Walmer Rd. were renovicted, meaning they were forced to leave their homes in the rental building in the Annex neighbourhood to allow the landlord to do major renovations.
Some of the tenants had been in the building for almost 50 years. They have had to move — which is painful at the best of times — out of their community, find a new place to live, pay much higher rent costs and wait for renovations to be completed, with no firm timelines given by the landlord.
Landlords are allowed to renovict (evict for renovations) their tenants in Ontario on one condition: that tenants are allowed back into the unit at their previous rent when the renovations are done.
The problem? The landlord, Salford Investments Ltd., and the property manager, Cromwell Management, are not allowing tenants back in.
CBC reported in January 2023 that tenants were still waiting for the landlord to offer up units, even though tenants had been told two years before that, “It is expected that the construction will be complete and you will be able to move in the rental unit on November 1, 2021.”
Tenants started to fear that the landlord was breaking the law in May 2022. At that time, Cromwell Management started listing new rental units at the property at current market rates which were “more than $700 more” a month (or $8,500 more annually) than what older residents were paying.
In March, the Annex Residents Association wrote to the landlord that, “these rightful tenants have been watching new occupants move into the building for many months now, yet they still have not been notified by Cromwell that their suites are available for occupancy.”
Most of the former tenants are stuck in legal limbo, paying rents elsewhere they can’t afford and waiting for someone in a position of power to do something radical: force the landlord to follow the law.
Eviction fraud has exploded across the province, happening tens of thousands of times a year, based on information provided by the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board to the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations and other sources.
It appears that the provincial government, which oversees evictions, is going to continue to allow eviction fraud to run rampant. In early April, the Province released a batch of new tenant protections including many that focused directly on renovictions. We expect most landlords will ignore the new rules, unless tenants get together and make noise.
This article appears in the May/June 2023 Issue.