Imagine opening the door to your new home for the first time only to be greeted by a group of wriggling maggots on the floor.
That was the scene Chantelle Koley encountered upon entering her Manitoba Housing unit located in Transcona recently.
"I was shocked,” said Koley. “I looked closer and there were hundreds!"
The maggots were crawling all over the base boards in the living room and in the bedroom, said Koley.
Koley, a single mother who had waited for several months to get into an affordable suite, refused to move into the maggot-infested apartment at 30 Wynford Drive.
"I was completely appalled, I’ve never seen anything like this before, or heard anything like this,” she said. “It was pretty disgusting."
Koley said she signed the lease last week and was supposed to move in last Friday on the first of the month.
But when, upon seeing the maggots, Koley stopped moving in and requested to be placed back on the wait list for another suite, she was told by Manitoba Housing she would have to re-apply. The building manager told her she was on the hook for August’s rent either way.
"The simple answer that they keep giving me is I signed the lease so I'm responsible for the rent of August," said Koley.
"I showed them the pictures that I'd taken and I explained to them that this is a hazard and no-one should have to live like this," said Koley. "I have a child, an 11-month-old boy and I would not want my child crawling on that floor."
Koley said the building manager offered to fumigate the suite so she could move in as soon as possible.
But she refused to move in – whether or not the suite were to get treated – because she's concerned about where the maggots may be coming from.
Koley has contacted the Manitoba ombudsman for help. According to the Residential Tenancy Act, a person can terminate a lease if the rental unit poses a risk to the health or safety of the tenant.
The province said the Manitoba Housing Authority reviews all concerns and complaints. The province also said no one would be able to comment on Koley’s case until Tuesday.
For now, Koley and her son are staying with her grandmother, but she worried about what would happen to another family in her situation without such a backup plan.
"What about the families and people with children that don't have anywhere to go?"