by Shannon Lee Mannion

Linda Tranter, lead lawyer for housing at The Legal Clinic based in Perth, gave a clarion call to action at last Monday’s Housing Coalition meeting when she told 25 participants, “I am sounding the alarm. Eviction is really bad in our area.” She said, “These were halted on April 8, 2021, until June 2, 2021. If they start up, a huge number of tenants will be evicted.”

Drawing a deep breath, she added, “Evictions are higher today than what I’ve seen in 20 years. Anyone getting evicted now will have a horrible time finding anything they can afford.”

According to news reports today, the halt to residential evictions will indeed end on June 2.

It is a fact that rents are exorbitant and no single person on a government stipend can afford the cost of a one-bedroom apartment, much less a couple with children affording a two or three-bedroom unit. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Lanark County over the past several months has hovered at between $1,200 and $1,350. Two-bedroom apartments went for an average of $1,455 in the week ending on May 28/21 with some prices in the weeks before peaking as high as $1,700.

If you are in rental arrears and the sheriff knocks on your door, what will you do if you are given three days to vacate? Even if you could afford first and last month’s rent, there are no apartments available; nothing in the private market and nothing upcoming for five to ten years on the social housing list monitored by Lanark County Housing Corporation (LCHC).

And don’t think that because it’s summer, you can stay at a friend’s for a while, stay at the cottage, or live in a motel room if you have to; what about your belongings? Your clothing, furniture, dishes, plants and pets? There are but a handful of storage units to be had in Lanark County and Dymond Storage in Ottawa reports maybe one or two available. Who will care for your dog or cat?

Ms. Tranter stressed that tenants should keep in mind that the first notice of eviction is essentially a warning telling the tenant to fix the problem or pay the rent arrears to stay in their home. Tenants can only be removed by the Sheriff after a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board where they can raise their concerns and arrange repayment.

It is critical to get legal advice and attend the hearing by telephone if necessary. Many eviction applications are resolved without an eviction and only the Sheriff can remove a tenant if an Order of the Landlord and Tenant Board is issued. For free legal advice and assistance, tenants can call The Legal Clinic at 613 264-8888 or 1 888 777-8916.

In a chilling end to her presentation, Ms. Tranter issued this warning, “It’s going to get a whole lot worse and it’ll be steady. Expect to see people living in tents, if they are lucky to have a tent. Tent cities are coming. We need to be ready.”