Nova Scotia

Fairview tenants prepare for 'nightmare' renovation amid eviction fears

The landlord at 25 Vimy Ave. in Halifax is warning tenants of daily disruptions in heat, power and water over the next six months as a major renovation gets underway. The tenants have resisted what they say is an illegal eviction attempt.

Landlord warns of daily heat, power, water disruptions over next 6 months

The new owner of 25 Vimy Ave. in Halifax plans to fix the building, including installing a new roof, windows and siding, and renovating the units. (Robert Short/CBC)

Tenants of a Halifax apartment building who have been receiving eviction notices since May are now faced with the prospect of frequent disruptions in heat, power and water as a major renovation takes place around them.

The landlord of 25 Vimy Ave. in Fairview wants to do significant renovations to the 30-unit building. Adam Barrett of BlackBay Real Estate Group informed tenants in May they would need to vacate their units by the beginning of August so he could carry out the work.

But the deadline for the eviction came and went on Aug. 3, and about 10 tenants still remain.

On Monday, the company posted notices in the building informing tenants that renovations would begin Aug. 27.

"Please note that water, power and heat will be interrupted daily due to plumbing and electrical updating between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday for the next six months," the notice reads. "Your patience is appreciated throughout this process."

Leigh MacLean, a housing support worker at Halifax Housing Help who has been working with tenants in the building, said she's disappointed and shocked the situation has gotten to this point.

"We've gone through all the appropriate channels. The only person that's not acting above board is the landlord here and there doesn't seem to be … any kind of consequences or accountability for the landlords that are doing this."

Leigh MacLean is a housing support worker with Halifax Housing Help. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

The province's Residential Tenancies program says the landlord has not yet filed any applications required to evict tenants, although Barrett says he has.

If a landlord wants to proceed with evictions for renovations, they must send a form to the department, which would then schedule hearings with each tenant to determine if the unit needs to be vacant to carry out the renovations.

If the unit does need to be vacant, Residential Tenancies would issue an order to both the landlord and tenant with the eviction date.

If this process is not followed, tenants are not required to comply with the eviction.

Landlord 'stuck between a rock and a hard place'

Barrett said he initially decided not to attempt the evictions through the tenancy board, instead taking "the high road" of offering tenants $1,000 plus moving expenses and giving them three months' notice.

"We tried to take a different approach, which should have worked, but unfortunately it hasn't," he said. "Why would you not take it, instead of live through the nightmare of this renovation?"

Barrett said he has filed an application to evict tenants based on rent arrears — "which of course is going to take months and months to get these people out of there."

He said he's "stuck between a rock and a hard place," since most of the remaining tenants have not paid rent since he bought the building this spring and his bills, including utilities and mortgage payments, are adding up.

He said some tenants are intentionally damaging the building, punching holes in the drywall and causing flooding.

The renovations will begin with the demolition of vacant units, including removing toilets and tubs and doing repairs to the heating system, Barrett said.

'No one seemed to step up for these tenants'

Meanwhile, MacLean said tenants have had difficulties finding new apartments because of the severe lack of affordable housing options.

She said they have called their city councillor, MLA, municipal bylaw enforcement and Residential Tenancies for help handling the situation.

"None of the services stepped up and protected these tenants," she said. "They're defeated, at this point."

A spokesperson for Service Nova Scotia, which administers the Residential Tenancies program, said tenants can file an application outlining their concerns and a hearing will be held before a decision is issued.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca

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