Montreal tenants call out landlord after last-minute danger eviction

“Nothing was done about it,” says Nia Kat about structural repairs she says were neglected for months on the Montreal building where she lives. Now, residents have to evacuate their apartments as the foundation is unsafe. Felisha Adam reports.

Montreal residents who live in Berri townhouses are calling foul on their landlord as they are left scrambling to get their things together and find new homes.

Residents were sent a letter on Oct. 7 to evacuate by Oct. 23, citing the foundation of the building is too dangerous.

Sarah Davies, one of the residents forcefully evacuated, contacted CityNews. She said the situation was extremely frustrating.

“To come to us with such little time that we don’t have the ability to react, to find housing or basic needs, to put us in this compromised (situation) because you just didn’t act, for me that’s negligence,” said Davies.

“If you don’t have a support network of friends, you have 35 years worth of stuff, you don’t have a job, and you’re on a fixed income and you’ve been here 35 years and you’re afraid – what do you do? No Internet, no phone. What do you do?”

Residents of the building say they have been complaining and sounding the alarm for repairs for months.

Inside the apartments, cracks are visible. Outside, a window is broken due to the pressure of the collapsing building.

“We started noticing a lot of cracks and in speaking with all the neighbours yesterday at our tenancy, collectively, we realized we’ve been complaining about this since the summer,” Davies said.

“One of them has a huge diagonal crack in the wall that’s like a quarter of an inch thick,” added Nia Kat, one of Davies’ neighbours. “My front door stopped closing because the doorframe has collapsed and is on an angle now. And that was also reported. Nothing was done about it.”

Kat, an international student, and others in Berri have been reaching out to the landlord since they received the notice on Oct. 7. There has been no clear answer back.

Berri townhouses

Residents who live in Berri townhouses are calling foul on their landlord as they are left scrambling to get their things together and find new homes. (Photo Credit: Felisha Adam, CityNews)

“I’m trying to get an answer from him, but I have to pack, I have to move, I have to find storage, I have to coordinate with everyone else and find a place to put my cats,” said Kat.

CityNews contacted Jean Francois Sam Jam Kwong, one of the landlords who shares ownership of the building with Corine Sam Jam Kwong, on Oct. 11, but did not hear back. CityNews contacted them again 48 hours later, but still did not receive a response.

Alain Deschamps, a community organizer with Committée du Logement de Plateau, says situations like this aren’t uncommon.

“Unfortunately (we) get quite a few cases where landlords have neglected to do repairs or have decided not to carry on repairs,” he said. “And then what happens, unfortunately, is that the tenants are often left in a very precarious situation where their housing is threatened or they lose their housing because their apartment becomes unsafe or uninhabitable.”

Deschamps recommends that residents contact Committée du Logement, which is available in all boroughs, as a first step.

The City of Montreal did not get back to CityNews with a comment on the situation.

In an email to Davies, the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough councillor’s office for Mile End said they do not see “sufficient proof from the owner to order an evacuation.

“(Owners) are responsible in providing a notice and compensation to cover expenses.”

That compensation can cover moving costs, storage, and extra rent needed to cover temporary accommodation.

But the landlord has not indicated that compensation is on the way.

“This is a situation of negligence because you’ve been given enough notice to know that there are issues here. That’s your job,” said Davies.

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