The blow for tenants of 146 to 170 Osgoode St. landed on June 30, 2020. They were all served eviction notices by their landlord, 146 Osgoode Street Holdings, Inc. The landlord revealed his intent to renovate their rooming house units to higher quality accommodations. The project is being managed by Smart Living, a local property management company.
As tenants began to leave, others started a campaign to reverse the eviction, calling the process renoviction. Since then, they have raised money (about $1,500) for litigation expenses, sought media exposure, created a Facebook page (Tenants of 146-170 Osgoode St. vs. Renovictions) and received legal assistance from lawyer Ryan Deacon and uOttawa students from David Wiseman’s law class. It’s now seven months later and what’s their status? Tenants initially suffered from a take-no-prisoners attitude by the landlord. However, Chandra, one of the remaining 10-15 tenants, reports that the landlord’s policy “is more human now.”
In support of that assessment, Howard Kravitz, manager for Smart Living Properties, recently showed Chandra an apartment that could be rented for $650/month. It is new, private, has a back yard but it’s a one-room apartment, clearly built for short-term renters like students. Chandra now rents a one-bedroom apartment from Smart Living with significantly more room. It’s a difficult decision for Chandra. “Where am I going to put all my stuff?”
Ryan Deacon has agreed to provide legal representation at the Landlord and Tenant Board for any tenants who decide not to move. With the pandemic slowing nearly everything down, there has been no date set for the hearing. Deacon has heard that six months is the current wait time.
Deacon knows that these tenants don’t have much money. He thinks that, when it’s all over, he may collect about five percent of his normal fees. Deacon says that, after paying for filing fees, report requirements, inspections, etc., “… it probably makes sense just to throw a party or something for the remaining tenants; although that may not be an option, depending on how they raised the money.”
In the meantime, contractors are continuing to tear down walls and rip up floors; basically gentrifying the whole block. Chandra has a short time to make his decision.