Posted May 20, 2021
Bruce McPhee is planning to stay put.
McPhee, 65, has lived at 816 Concession St. for about six years and enjoys the short walk to the Mountain brow and convenient transit access. But most of all, McPhee appreciates the rent on his one-bedroom apartment, at just under $750 a month.
“I had planned to live here and not ever have to worry about rent,” McPhee said during an advocacy event organized by the Hamilton Mountain chapter of ACORN Canada on May 14.
But today McPhee worries he might soon be forced to leave his unit in the three-storey building, after residents were given N13 notices to vacate at the end of April. The property owner has asked tenants to leave in order to convert some one-bedroom units into two-bedroom apartments.
McPhee is one of three tenants who have held their ground. Like other tenants, McPhee was offered about $2,300, or roughly three months’ rent, to vacate his unit before May 1. But the recent retiree fears similar accommodations in the area would cost nearly twice what he’s currently paying.
ACORN, an advocacy group for tenants and people with low to moderate incomes, called the landlord’s action at 816 Concession a “demoviction” citing the landlord’s intention to remove interior walls between units.
McPhee recently retired as an employee at the Tim Hortons coffee roasting plant in Ancaster. And while the company treated him well, McPhee said his body can no longer meet the physical demands of the job.
If he lives another 20 years, McPhee estimates he’ll have to pay more than $150,000 he doesn’t have if he has to rent another one-bedroom unit at current market rates.
“I’m going to have to go back and find a part-time job,” he said.
In legal notices to tenants at 816 Concession, Q Force Investment Corporation says residents must leave by the end of April.
Derek Sinko, Q Force’s lawyer, has described the work his client plans as an “internal demolition” but not a renovation.
“This building, from what I understand, is a bit of an older building. There’s no separate HVAC or metered services,” Sinko said in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator last December.
In Ontario, landlords can evict tenants to do extensive renovations that require units to be vacant. But tenants can reserve the right to return at the same rent once they’re completed.
That doesn’t apply in the case of 816 Concession St., Sinko told the Spectator. As part of a “substantial upgrade,” one-bedroom units will be combined into two-bedroom apartments.
Sinko wasn’t immediately available for a follow-up interview on May 19.
McPhee said he anticipates a possible tribunal at the Landlord and Tenant Board over the status of his tenancy.
“I’m digging in, for sure, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.”
If it doesn’t go his way, McPhee said he’s fortunate to have a large family and friends he could stay with on a short-term basis.
He acknowledged that other tenants might not be as fortunate.
Marnie Schurter, co-chair of the ACORN Hamilton Mountain chapter, also took part in the May 14 advocacy event at 816 Concession.
Schurter said Hamilton should adopt an “anti-renoviction” bylaw similar to one that exists in New Westminster, B.C., that’s intended to stop landlords from evicting tenants in order to renovate and re-rent units at a higher rate.
“They can’t just renovict people out. They have to find out what the person’s situation is, and they have to find a place where they can go while the renovations are going on. And they have to offer them the same place at the same rent,” said Schurter.
Article by Mike Pearson for Hamilton News