The Charlatan: Manor Village tenants fight to stop evictions

Posted May 30, 2022

More than 50 Manor Village tenants and members of the ACORN Tenants Union marched the streets of Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood on May 18, calling for property owners to end eviction notices against Manor Village residents.

On April 29, 35 households at Manor Village received eviction notices from Smart Living Properties that give them until Aug. 21 to leave their homes, according to ACORN Ottawa, a community-based organization fighting for social and economic justice.

The Ottawa-based property management company is ending the tenancy of these households at Majestic Drive and Woodroffe Avenue, where Manor Village is located. The company plans to renovate the units afterwards, completing a process tenant advocates refer to as ‘renovictions.’

“The notices were required because the properties need important repairs and refurbishments and must be vacant for the work to be safely carried out,” a press release Smart Living Properties sent to the Charlatan read. 

Alison Trowbridge, a Manor Village tenant and ACORN member, said she has been living in her unit since 2014 while raising her nine-year-old son.

While she currently pays less than $1,270 a month for a two-bedroom townhouse, Trowbridge said her rent will increase to $3,200 monthly once renovations are done.

“No family can afford that,” she said.

While tenants don’t have to move out, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to get them evicted. If the LTB rules in favour of the landlord after a hearing is held, tenants will be required to move out by the termination date stated in an N13 notice, which is issued when the owner requires the property to be vacant for repairs.

Manor Village tenants have access to the LTB process information in the notices they received, which ACORN provided to the Charlatan.

Trowbridge said tenants will do whatever it takes to fight the evictions.

“We need to put an end to these renovictions,” Trowbridge said. “Fight [them] in tribunal. Wherever we need to, we will.”

Joel Harden, Ontario NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre, attended the demonstration. Speaking to the crowd, he said “all political parties should work together to solve the housing crisis, and to find solutions to social issues like these, as this is what politics is about.”

After hearing from speakers, Trowbridge led demonstrators to the office of Smart Living Properties on Argyle Avenue.

“We have a group standing behind us and the tenants that are left are willing to fight.”

According to Trowbridge, Smart Living Properties representatives said they would only meet with tenants individually, not as a group, despite the tenants’ wishes.

“[Smart Living Properties] wants to make them feel scared and tricked them into leaving,” Trowbridge said. “We have a group standing behind us and the tenants that are left are willing to fight.”

Forum Equity Partners, the group that co-owns Manor Village with Smart Living Properties, is headquartered in Toronto. During the rally, the group headed to Morguard, an Ottawa-based real estate company, instead. Morguard is one of Forum Equity Partners’ institutional investors, according to ACORN.

Trowbridge said ACORN members spoke with a Morguard representative who agreed to fax a letter to the CEO of Forum Equity Partners, Richard Abboud, requesting he meet with the tenant union.

In the letter ACORN leaders wrote on behalf of tenants, they asked that Morguard stop investing in Forum Equity Partners unless the company ends the eviction plans. 

Morguard could not be reached for comment in time for publication. 

“After our visit with Morguard, I am hopeful,” Trowbridge said.

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Article by Dominique Gené and Kenneth Oko-Oboh for the Charlatan

 

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