New Brunswick

With few options, Fredericton tenants protest the end of their leases

In a squeezed market, tenants wonder where they will go as new landlord makes space for renovations.

Landlord says they have to be out by end of May for renovations

Tenants protest outside 91 Main Street in Fredericton. (Ed Hunter CBC)

Tenants of a Fredericton apartment building recently under new ownership stood on the street Tuesday waving signs to protest the termination of their leases and to call for better protections for tenants. 

People in all 17 units at 91 Main Street will have to leave the building by the end of May, and those who have been there less than five years have to be out by the end of March. 

Sue Billings has called the building home for more than 15 years. 

"I'm just a basket case – just a basket case. We all are," she said. 

Frustrated tenants hold protest at Fredericton apartment building

6 months ago
Duration 0:59
Tenants say they've been hit with large rent increases and mass eviction notices.

Billings isn't sure where she will live come June. 

"I found a place. It's $1,240 a month, but that's without any utilities. Two bedroom, can't do it. Not going to happen," she said. 

Billings is on a pension but still works to make ends meet. 

She pays $750 a month now.

Before the notice that her lease would be terminated, there were two separate notices of rent increases, one of $250 a month and then another $100 on top of that, which would have taken effect in August. 

She said her only rent increase in the building before that was $70 last winter. 

"It's not been maintained, so maybe they did us a favour in the long run. As long as we can find a place to live, that's the problem." 

Sue Billings, right, says she's having trouble finding a new place to live that's affordable. (Ed Hunter CBC)

In Fredericton the vacancy rate is about two per cent. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city in 2021 was $1,059, up nearly $100 from the year before. 

Nichola Taylor, who has lived in the building for four years, said tenants in the province need help.

"There's no protection whatsoever for tenants, and so that needs to be changed," she said. "And we also need to stop these — they need a cap on the rent — so they need to stop the rental increases. It's so unfair to expect somebody to suddenly pay a huge amount of money on top of what they're already paying."

The tenants say the reason they were given for the termination of their leases was the need for renovations. 

"It's been very stressful for all of us. We have so many seniors living in the building. I have a nine-year-old daughter and we realize there's not a lot we can do as tenants regarding reno–victions," Taylor said.

Nichola Taylor has lived at 91 Main Street for four years. (Ed Hunter CBC )

The building was sold in December to a new owner. 

In a bidding war, Terry Cormier bought the building for $1.5 million. He said his offer had zero conditions and he bought it without ever stepping inside. 

"I knew it needed some work but I didn't realize how much work it actually needs. It's in quite rough shape," he said. 

He said the heat often doesn't work, the roof is in bad shape and plenty of flooring needs to be replaced. He estimates the renovations will cost about $200,000. 

"It just needs to be renovated and that's what I'm going to do," he said.

When the renovations are finished, Cormier said he'll rent the units out for a market price, closer to $900 or $1000, with heat included. 

"Which is still under market, in my opinion."

Service New Brunswick said a residential tenancies officer met with the tenants to give them guidance on applying for assistance with the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. 



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