Queen's Hotel tenants say they're being ousted on short notice
Landlord wants tenants out for renovation, community leader says it amounts to an illegal eviction
A community leader in Parkdale and the local MPP say a group of vulnerable tenants are being illegally evicted from a Parkdale hotel that operates as a rooming house.
Last Wednesday, a notice posted in the hallways of the Queen's Hotel on Queen Street West informed its 27 residents they had to be out by 11 a.m. today (Aug. 7) for a renovation.
The notice said the hotel's operators, who acquired the property about two months ago, hope to see many of the tenants back "in the new and improved" hotel when the renovation is complete.
But two tenants who spoke to CBC News say they're worried the post-renovation rents will be beyond their means and that the request to leave amounts to a short-order eviction notice.
"I've got nowhere to turn," said Andrew Bardyn, who's lived at the Queen's for a little over two years. "I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I'm not ready to go back to sleeping in the park. I'm 43 years old, I'm too old that crap."
Calls to the hotel's owner by CBC News were not returned.
Paul Snider was among a group of tenants moving out on Friday. He said the notice about the renovation came "as an incredible shock."
"There's going to be people go into shelters tonight," said Snider, who said he counts himself lucky because he's been able to find another room.
Victor Willis is executive director head of Parc (The Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre) a local agency that is trying to help the tenants.
'This is their home'
Willis said many of the tenants have health issues and live month-to-month on social assistance.
"You can't find a place in eight days, even if you have means," Willis said Friday on Metro Morning. "I wouldn't want to live there, but these are people that have lived there for years. This is their home."
Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo said the new owner is taking advantage of the fact that on paper, the people who live in the Queen's are hotel guests, who can be asked to leave on a week's notice.
"Clearly this is not a hotel in the traditional sense of the word," she told CBC News. "We can prove this has been the home of low-income individuals. This isn't a hotel, this is a home."
Willis said many of the building's residents were recently asked to sign papers to switch their rental agreements from monthly terms to week-to-week.
He said the move is an attempt to get the tenants out with a only week notice, instead of three months required for tenants on a month-to-month rental agreement.
Brad Eyre with the city's emergency management office said some of the Queen's Hotel residents may be eligible for up to 14 days of accommodation and personal support through a city program.
"When people are out on the street we step in," he told CBC News. He said the Red Cross also has plans to help some of the hotel's residents find accommodation and get the services they need.
In the meantime Willis plans to get legal aid lawyers to stop what he sees as an illegal eviction.
"We're not going to let the police evict these guys," he said.