When their lease expired at the Main Avenue apartment at the end of April, Barrett would not renew it, but said he had tried to work with them to clear their rental arrears and place the couple in one of his other buildings. This deal was never made and in early May Barrett cut power to the Baldock and Forrest unit.
After nearly four months, Barrett said he resorted to removing pieces of the apartment because he had lost patience. CBC reported that Barrett was forcing tenants to leave other buildings renovation disruptions and rent increases, but he said it was the first time he’d removed essentials to get a tenant out.
Fiona Traynor, a community legal worker who now represents Baldock and Forrest through Dalhousie Legal Aid, said Barrett’s tactics in this case and in those previously reported are unacceptable. She called it “strong armament”.
“This type of behavior, I don’t know if it’s common, but it’s certainly not unknown to owners in Halifax,” she says.
Owner says he will force the couple out
Barrett said he ordered bailiffs to forcefully remove Baldock and Forrest by Friday night. Traynor said she had seen no evidence of such an order and, in the meantime, filed a complaint with the Halifax Regional Municipality on the basis of a bylaw that sets minimum standards of living. that owners must respect.
“The owner has removed the front doors, the front door to their unit, which means they have no safety or security,” Traynor said.
The province’s Residential Tenancies Act states that landlords cannot modify front doors without the tenant’s consent, but since Baldock and Forrest haven’t had a tenancy agreement in months, Traynor said their protections under this law were limited.
Baldock said she and Forrest did not want to stay in their apartment, but had found no other place to go after months of searching.
“This situation fell right in the middle of COVID,” Traynor said. “It didn’t help these two young women to find a place. ”
Traynor also pointed to the low rental vacancy rate in Halifax, which has made it “virtually impossible” for low-income people to find affordable housing in recent times.
The neighbor wants them to leave
Baldock said she and Forrest fell behind on rent first because a former roommate left without paying her share. Then, when their rental contract expired, they were excluded from Income Assistance, which included a housing allowance they relied on to pay Barrett. They haven’t paid rent in the past four months.
Crystal Verge, the couple’s next door neighbor, said she sympathized with the couple when their power was first cut off and occasionally let them use her power. But Verge said they started acting disrespectfully, making noise that kept him from sleeping late at night.
“I just severed all ties with them,” Verge said.
She said she started to feel threatened and didn’t want to take out her trash or go to the laundry room without locking her apartment.
“These two girls have to go,” Verge said.
Barrett cited Verge’s complaints about Baldock and Forrest as a justification for trying to get them to leave.
Baldock said police have been called on at least two occasions to settle disputes with the neighbor, but said tensions have been resolved.
“We both went our own way. We mind our own business, ”Baldock said.
Barrett said the couple ransacked their apartment and smashed two glass doors in the hallways, but the couple denied this.