Canadian Landlord Rips Out Doors, Windows and Faucet to Force Tenant Eviction

A landlord in Canada has removed doors, windows, and kitchen facilities from an apartment unit in Halifax in a bid to force out the couple living there, who have not paid rent since their lease expired at the end of April.

Melody Baldock and partner Laurissa Forrest have been in a dispute with landlord Adam Barrett for several months, CBC News reported Friday, after their lease expired and they stopped paying rent. Baldock and Forrest say they have been unable to find alternative accommodation, partially due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barrett—who in the past has made headlines for forcing tenants out of other buildings via renovation disruption and rent increases—told CBC that Baldock and Forrest have long been troublesome tenants, failing to pay rent, fighting with neighbors and causing damage to the building.

Barrett refused to renew their lease at the end of April, and said he tried to work with the couple to address their rental arrears. He also tried to place the pair in one of his other rental buildings. When this failed, he cut the power to their apartment at the beginning of May.

Barrett has now removed the front door, windows and the kitchen sink faucet in a bid to push the couple out. Baldock told CBC, "It's a huge shock to come home and then find out basically your home was raided."

Fiona Traynor, a local legal worker representing Baldock and Forrest through Dalhousie Legal Aid, claimed Barrett was "strong-arming" her clients. She added that similar landlord behavior is "definitely not unheard of by landlords in Halifax." She added that the missing front door means the couple "have no safety or security."

Halifax's tenancy rules say that landlords cannot alter entry doors without tenant consent, but the fact that Baldock and Forrest's tenancy has expired means they have little legal protection, Traynor told CBC.

Barrett says he has an order for bailiffs to remove Baldock and Forrest—by force if necessary. Traynor told the news channel she has seen no evidence of the order and has appealed to local officials to ensure her clients are afforded the minimum livable standards required of landlords.

Baldock and Forrest said they got into cash flow difficulties when a previous roommate moved out without paying her share of the rent. Upon expiry of their lease, they were then disqualified from rental allowance payments they had become dependent on.

Barrett also cited tensions between the couple and their neighbors in efforts to eject them. Next-door neighbor Crystal Verge has complained that the pair had been acting disrespectfully and making noise keeping her awake late at night.

"Them two girls got to leave," Verge told CBC, saying she felt threatened by her neighbors. Baldock said police had been called twice to settle disputes between the neighbors, though claimed tensions have now abated.

Barrett also accused Baldock and Forrest of trashing the apartment and breaking two glass doors in the common areas; charges they deny.

Traynor said the pair have struggled to leave the apartment due to the pandemic, their financial difficulties and the low rental vacancy rate in Halifax. "This situation fell right in the middle of COVID," she said Traynor. "That has not helped these two young women to find a place."

Coronavirus has caused a crisis for renters across the world, with lockdown measures causing unprecedented unemployment and cash flow problems for tenants. Up to 40 million people in the U.S. could be at risk of eviction in coming months, according to a study by The Aspen Institute.

The risk is highest in California, where more than 4 million people face losing their homes, followed by New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.

Eviction, Canada, landlord, tenants, coronavirus, lease, rent
This file photo shows renters and housing advocates at a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions in front of the Los Angeles court house amid the coronavirus pandemic on August 21, 2020, in Los Angeles. VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images/Getty