Toronto

Toronto woman who said landlord wouldn't tell her how to pay rent wins fight against eviction notice

An order from the Landlord and Tenant Board this month states that the landlord withdrew their application against Sheena Callaghan and has to stop ignoring her "reasonable inquiries" made by phone and email.

Sheena Callaghan says it took more than 50 days for landlord to provide payment details

Sheena Callaghan moved into an east-end apartment building in early August. Days later, she was sent a notice to end her tenancy for not paying rent. But Callaghan says she reached out to the property management company multiple times, asking for payment information — and didn't get it. (Martin Trainor/CBC News)

A Toronto woman who says she got an eviction notice after her landlord didn't tell her how to pay her rent — won't be getting the boot after all.

An order from the Landlord and Tenant Board this month states that the landlord chose to withdraw the application against Sheena Callaghan and has to stop ignoring her "reasonable inquiries" made by phone and email.

It's the latest chapter in what Callaghan's lawyer called a "baffling," months-long saga that CBC Toronto first told you about last December. 

Callaghan said it took her landlord weeks to provide basic rent payment details for her east-end apartment last summer, despite her reaching out multiple times to Greenwin, the property management company, over a more than 50-day period. 

"I'm satisfied that the Landlord and Tenant Board see it the way that it was," said Callaghan. "A lot of this could've been avoided if the landlord had just responded and dealt with this appropriately."

Callaghan received an eviction notice to end her tenancy for "non-payment of rent" a few days after moving into the $1,800 a month apartment last August. The single mother of two had taken over the lease from a friend for the two-bedroom-plus-den unit, with her assignment agreement starting on Aug. 1. 

The notice stipulated that Callaghan had to pay rent by Aug. 27, but she said that even after more attempts to reach the property manager for rent payment details, nothing was provided until Aug. 29 — two days after the deadline.

At that time, she received an email from a Greenwin representative outlining all her rent payment options and the personal account number she needed to know in order to make a payment.

The next day, she was slapped with a formal eviction notice from the legal team for her landlord, Starlight Apartments.

Landlord failed to 'properly communicate'

The fight between Callaghan and Starlight went all the way to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), with Callaghan countering through a tenants-rights application.

That application included allegations that Starlight harassed her and interfered with her reasonable enjoyment of the unit. CBC Toronto attended the joint hearing for both applications on Feb. 12.

The basis for the landlord's application to evict Callaghan was that she hadn't paid $1,800 in rent by the end of August.

But Callaghan and her lawyer, Caryma Sa'd, argued that not only did Callaghan pay her full rent once she had proper payment details, but also only needed to pay half her rent for August, because the previous tenant had already paid the first two weeks of the month, totalling $900.

In their order, LTB adjudicators Laura Hartslief and Elana Rose wrote that the previous tenant "fully intended" the $900 he had paid would be put towards Callaghan's rent, and that it became a "credit" to Callaghan's account with the landlord.

The order also states that Callaghan provided the LTB with "copies of numerous emails to the site administrator and the senior manager in which she makes inquiries about how to pay her rent" while attempting to clarify whether the $900 would be transferred to her account.

The order states that Starlight did interfere with Callaghan's enjoyment of her apartment by "failing to properly communicate with her."

Greenwin, which handles the property management of the building on behalf of Starlight, provided a comment to CBC Toronto on behalf of both companies.

"Greenwin continues to believe that it has acted appropriately in regards to the concerns raised and expressed that throughout the hearing," spokesperson Danny Roth said in the statement, adding the company would not be commenting further out of respect for "tenant privacy" and the LTB process.

The LTB order also notes that, in the end, Starlight withdrew its application against Callaghan, has to stop ignoring her "reasonable inquiries," and now owes her more than $900.

"That feels like a victory," said Caryma Sa'd, Callaghan's lawyer. "My client was vindicated in the sense that it is unreasonable for a landlord to withhold pertinent information, and then turn around and try to evict the tenant on the basis that she didn't act upon information that was ever received."

Victory aside, Callaghan said she's looking for a new apartment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Pelley is a CBC News reporter based in Toronto. Currently covering how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Canadians, in Toronto and beyond. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

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