The same day Nova Scotia’s ‘renoviction’ ban was lifted earlier this week, a representative for Elly Archer’s new owner came to her door with a message.
“He said we were going to be kicked out,” Archer told CBC News in an interview Wednesday.
A renovation occurs when a landlord forces residents out of a building so that it can be renovated and then rented out to new tenants at significantly higher prices.
Archer lives in a house on Murray Hill Drive in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which has been converted into four one-bedroom apartments. The same owner owns another neighboring building which has also been transformed into four apartments.
All eight apartments received the same warning, said Adele Martell, who lives in the other building.
“He had nothing to show me, he had no papers,” Martell said. “He just said very briefly, ‘I’m sorry to have to do this to you, but I’m going to have to evict all the tenants of these apartments.'”
Archer and Martell said the owner’s agent told them they were “renovated” and that they should expect to receive the official document known as DR5 shortly. But both said their apartments had already undergone major repairs over the past three years.
“There’s actually nothing here that can be renovated. Everything is new,” Martell said. “I believe it’s just an excuse he’s giving so he can raise the rent as much as possible.”
Nova Scotia banned renovictions as a temporary measure related to the COVID-19 state of emergency in November 2020. The ban ended with the end of the state of emergency on Monday.
The province has made changes to the Residential Tenancies Act that require tenants to receive at least three months’ notice before a renovation. If a tenant does not agree to move out, the landlord must apply for an eviction order.
Property records for the two buildings on Murray Hill Drive show that the buildings officially changed hands on March 3. Kwesi Ellis of Toronto purchased the two properties, which are the only ones he owns in Nova Scotia.
CBC News contacted Ellis by phone. He confirmed he had recently purchased the buildings, but declined to comment further.
Archer, 66 and retired, has lived in the building for 15 years. She pays $676 a month. Martell, a single mother of two school-aged boys, has lived in the building for two years and pays $850 a month.
Both said they thought it would be impossible for them to find another apartment at the same price. Neither expected to hear of a renovation to their apartment building on the day the ban expired.
“I thought it was pretty nasty,” Archer said.
Archer said other tenants in the eight apartments included people in their 70s and 80s, some of whom had lived there for 30 or 40 years. Archer and Martell said they weren’t ready to sign a renovation deal and they weren’t ready to move.
“We’re definitely going to fight that,” Archer said. “I just want landlords to realize that there are good tenants out there, loyal tenants, and we’re being treated like crap right now.”
Claudia Chender, New Democrat MP for Dartmouth South, said that since the end of the renovation ban earlier this week, tenants of the two buildings on Murray Hill Drive and a third building have contacted her to say that they had received renovation notices.
“It’s not surprising,” Chender said, adding that she expects the same situation to happen in other areas. “That’s one of the main reasons we’ve continually tried to sound the alarm on this subject.”
Chender called for greater investment in non-market housing, which includes options like public, co-op and non-profit housing. She also said the NDP caucus wants the renovation ban reinstated temporarily until more housing can be created.
The provincial minister responsible for Service Nova Scotia, which includes the Residential Tenancies Program, said Thursday the province has not received any inquiries from landlords since the renovation ban was lifted on Monday. Colton LeBlanc said five requests had been submitted by Monday, but none had been heard.
“If the landlord has not applied to the rental board, gone through a hearing process and been approved, then that tenant should not be reconvicted and should file an application with the rental commission. rents,” said LeBlanc, Minister of Service Nova Scotia. and Internal Services.
LeBlanc said compensation is available for tenants who are wrongfully evicted. He says his ministry continues to look for ways to modernize the Residential Tenancies Act and work with other levels of government to create more affordable housing for Nova Scotians.
“These are various ministries that are all on deck to deal with this housing crisis that our province is facing.”