The Townhouse Issue in Ottawa

by Beth Gibbons 2 years ago in activism

150 families are being evicted from their homes in Ottawa.

The Townhouse Issue in Ottawa

There is a large issue happening in Ottawa that does not seem to be getting much attention at the moment. It certainly isn't getting any attention from government and is getting not much attention from media. However, it affects my family and many others here in Ottawa, Ontario, and we need to talk about it.

The Townhouse Epidemic in Ottawa

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant, we decided we needed a new home for our family. We took to the internet and searched for a few weeks and finally came upon a townhouse in the Herongate area in Ottawa, Ontario. We arranged a viewing, signed the lease, and moved in. Upon moving in, we asked the landlords if we would be able to live there for a minimum of 10 years and were told yes. This was in March of 2014.

Now, we are busily scrambling for a place to live by September 30, 2018. That's right, my family and I have only a few months to find a home or else we will be homeless. Why? Because our landlords, Timbercreek Asset Management, have decided that townhouses are not a good way to make the big bucks.

In fact, there seems to be an epidemic of this happening in Ontario, but especially in Ottawa in the Herongate area. There has already been one entire subdivision of townhouses torn down to rebuild condominiums. This sounds lovely, however the condominiums replacing the townhouses are too expensive for any of the previous residents to rent or buy.

150 families are being evicted at the end of September and we are one of them. The landlords have decided to compensate us well; however, with very little affordable housing available, it is hard to find a home similar in price and in size to the one we are about to lose.

It is true that in several years, the townhouses will not be safe to live in. However, we are unsure if this is just because the townhouses are old or if it is because the landlords have let them get to the point of no return. It was always difficult to get maintenance requests done when something had to be fixed and Timbercreek Asset Management is known for being slumlords. We personally had to contact the city of Ottawa to have our front door fixed so it wouldn't snow inside our home in the winter. We had contacted the landlords several times and had done several maintenance requests. However, as the winter months wore on, and it continued to snow into our house, underneath our front door, we decided we had to reach out for help from the city to get the repair done. The city told Timbercreek they would have to replace our door by a certain date and they finally did.

The community is a large Muslim community. Several people in the community do not have English as a first, or even a second language. I often wondered what happened if these residents needed something repaired. Did they know they could go to a landlord and tenant board or to the city of Ottawa if their landlords ignored their requests? It is very possible the townhouses were neglected by both the residents and Timbercreek for years, until they were unliveable.

However, Timbercreek has only owned the rental properties for six years in this area. Therefore, I highly doubt all the townhouses became unliveable in such a short period of time.

Many of the townhouses have issues with their foundations, much like the 80 townhouses that Timbercreek demolished recently and is replacing with condominiums right now.

There are several vacant townhouses that Timbercreek owns on the adjacent streets, however, they refuse to rent them to the residents being evicted. They are telling the media they have no plans to evict anyone else from their homes in future, however, they are telling the residents being evicted that other townhouses will be a part of their demolition plan in future. Therefore, they are not renting them out.

I think anyone who is living in the Herongate area and whom is renting through Timbercreek needs to be aware of any future plans to evict them, even if not for years down the road. The more time families have to prepare, the better. However, Timbercreek is giving everyone at least three months notice to evict and the proper compensation.

By law, they must give every tenant three months rent which includes moving expenses. Timbercreek is claiming they are doing this by the goodness of their heart, however, it is the law when evicting tenants for demolition purposes, as outlines by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

There are several advocacy groups dedicated to fighting the eviction. However, it is best if residents try to find a home during the summer months, accept the compensation given to them, and move. If they try to fight the eviction, and the N13 notice has been handed out to them already, they could end up with no home and needing to leave by the end of September.

There seems to be a lot of this going on in the city, townhouses being torn down to create housing with condos. Maybe one day in future, we will no longer have houses and subdivisions and everyone will be living in apartment buildings to rent or will buy condos.

If anyone is renting townhouses in the Ottawa area, now is the time to post your ads on Kijiji because there are 150 families being evicted from their homes. Families with bad credit or no landlord references besides Timbercreek will have a very hard time finding a place to live before September 30.

It is asked if any landlords are willing to help that they reach out to Timbercreek and any tenants in this area.

Hopefully everyone finds a home, us included.

Beth Gibbons
Beth Gibbons
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Beth Gibbons

Journalist, poet, mom, wife!

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