New Brunswick

Don't help homeless people, Moncton landlord tells tenants

Residents of three Moncton apartment buildings have been told they're not allowed to help the growing number of homeless people in the city because, their landlord claims, those people are choosing to stay on the streets.

Lease document claims 'all' homeless people have places to sleep but choose the streets

Three identical three-storey brick buildings.
The lease document for these three apartment buildings on Savoie Drive in Moncton prohibits residents from helping homeless people around the property. (Google Street View)

Residents of three Moncton, N.B., apartment buildings have been told they're not allowed to help any homeless people they might come in contact with on the property because their landlord claims they are choosing to stay on the streets.

A lease document for the three buildings on Savoie Drive says it's "strictly prohibited to feed, give money, give alcohol, cigarettes or any type of drugs or anything of any substance" to people who might "wander around the property."

Helping them "can become a problem," says the 15-page "welcome letter" from A&A Property Management.

"Please keep in mind that they all are provided with food and a place to sleep by the government and you should not feel bad for them if they chose not to follow their curfew and willingly chose to stay on the streets," says the notice obtained by CBC News.

It urges tenants to contact Moncton city hall to find out how to help homeless people "outside of the premises."

Man speaking at a meeting with a microphone in his hand.
Mike Randall, co-chair of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, said the lease document shows a lack of awareness about homelessness. (Maeve McFadden/CBC)

Mike Randall, the co-chair of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, said the document shows a lack of awareness of what drives homelessness.

The claim that "all" homeless people on the streets have chosen to be there is wrong, he said.

"I find it very discouraging that people are adding that kind of language to rental agreements and other things," he said. 

"I would strongly encourage them to maybe better understand all of the aspects of homelessness and maybe make their decision after that."

A Moncton Realtor listed as a director of the company that owns the properties turned down an interview request from CBC News.

Director won't answer questions

Art Dadson is a Realtor and co-owns A&A Real Estate Investors, which solicits investors to put money into owning properties. 

"We offer a better return on your money than any bank investments or government plans," says A&A's website.

In an email, Dadson said he'd spoken to another media organization "as they were the first to contact me." He didn't respond to other emails and phone calls. 

Randall, appointed to the area homelessness committee to represent business owners in Moncton, said they have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.

The "growing and challenging problem" of homelessness has created "downtown security challenges" including crime and vagrancy, he acknowledged. 

But the suggestion that "all" homeless people have the option of government-funded help and are choosing to stay on the streets shows a need for more understanding, he said.

Variety of reasons for homelessness

Randall said many people are on the streets because of rent evictions, lost jobs or mental health issues.

"It's disappointing that that is the perspective that any of our business owners have taken with respect to homelessness and our vulnerable population, but I'm not discounting their frustration," he said.

A smiling woman with long straight strawberry blonde hair parted on the side and wearing a tan blazer and black mock turtleneck looks at the camera for a photographic portrait.
Jill Green, minister responsible for housing, didn't acknowledge an interview request from CBC. (Stephen MacGillivray for the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick)

Housing Minister Jill Green did not acknowledge an interview request, but government spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said provincial law doesn't prohibit the kind of restriction in the Moncton lease.

"The matter you are asking about is not enforceable through the Residential Tenancies Act," he said.

On the document's claim that people on the streets chose to be there, Randall said four Moncton shelters have been "bursting at the seams" and would have been taking more people than they normally would during the recent snap of extreme cold, he said.

"Yes, everyone is coming to the table, the province, the city and others, but there's not enough," he said.

"What I would encourage everyone to do it is become more informed and more aware, and certainly maybe better understand that all of the people who are homeless in our community are not criminals, they're not all drug addicts and drug dealers."


Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. He grew up in Moncton and covered Parliament in Ottawa for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. He has reported on every New Brunswick election since 1995 and won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Newspaper Awards and Amnesty International. He is also the author of five non-fiction books about New Brunswick politics and history.

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