featured Poverty

Kendall Worth: Evicted! On the importance of knowing the law and fighting back

Eviction notice and gavel on a table.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This is a story about a young woman on welfare and a landlord who wanted her out of her apartment. It’s also a story about the importance of knowing the law, fighting back and not giving up.

The woman did not want to be identified, which means I also cannot tell you the name of the landlord.

On July 2 she received a notice that she had to get out of the apartment by August 1st. The landlord was going to do renovations, and then raise the rent so that she could no longer afford to live there.

Of course this is not enough time to find a new apartment. Especially when you are on income assistance and it comes to finding an affordable apartment for $535 or less. 

In fact, when I first met her on Sunday July 28 she was mentally preparing herself to be homeless very soon. 

She was worried about where she was going to go. She does not have a good type relationship with her family and she does not have a lot of friends who can accommodate her. It is her personal belief that landlord did what he did because he is tired of her being on welfare.  

She feels she is being treated unfairly by her landlord as an income assistance recipient.

On Tuesday we went to the Residential Tenancies office at Access Nova Scotia  together. This is what we learned.

  • If a tenant is required to be out of the building during renovations then in addition to giving notice, the landlord is often responsible for making arrangements for other accommodations while the renovations go on. The final decision is up to the Tenancies Board.
  • When the landlord wants to raise the rent they are required to give 4 months notice in case of a year-to-year lease. In her case after the renovations were complete, the landlord was planning to raise the rent immediately.
  • When the Residential Tenancies people read the actual notice she got from her landlord, they agreed that the notice was worded improperly in a way that was not legally binding. 

After she found out all this and when she came home she had to call the police because the landlord had changed her lock.

She had been apartment hunting over this past month since getting the notice on July 2nd, 2019. She already got turned down from one apartment she applied for. The reason they gave her for not accepting her is because she is on income assistance.

That too is against the law. Landlords are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on their age (such as children) or their source of income (such as Social Assistance).

See also: Sorry, no kids. Adult only rentals counter to Nova Scotia Human Rights legislation

Thanks goodness, now that she went to the Residential Tenancies office, she will not become homeless!  She has a Tenancy Board hearing scheduled for the 27th of August and her landlord was served papers. Until there is a decision the landlord is not allowed to start any renovations.

She has worked in the past before she hurt her back and developed damaged nerves and shoulder pain. Her shoulders give her a lot of pain when she does activities like lifting and stretching.

She misses her working days. Before developing her disability and going on income assistance she had a 10 to 15 year  work history, holding down good paying employment, and life was much better for her. In those days she never dreamed of developing the disabilities she has now and receiving income assistance.

Her resume shows that she graduated from grade 12 and she has some post secondary education as well.  She feels that all her education has now gone to waste.

We will continue to follow the story.   

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