Technically, the dreaded N12 and N13 eviction notices are reserved for landlords who want to sell, move in or renovate. In reality, unscrupulous owners often use them to force tenants out and raise the rent. The second in our series of horror stories from recently ousted renters

Bill Goddard

77, retired engineer
Evicted in 2019

I moved into my one-bedroom apartment in a low-rise near Queen and Logan in 2008. The building is more than 100 years old, but my landlord updated it when I moved in: she retiled the floors, put in a new sink and upgraded the countertops. When I first started living there, I paid $750. Now I pay $879.

My landlord owned the building for 38 years and managed everything herself. Last October, she sold it to a numbered company. All communication between the tenants and the new landlord goes through a property management firm. It’s hard to get used to: we have no idea who or what we’re dealing with.

Before the building was sold, the prospective buyers offered tenants $5,000 if they’d end their tenancy. They told us they wanted to replace the wiring, but I’ve heard rumours that the real plan is to subdivide the units into smaller apartments. In April, they sent out N13s, instructing us to leave by August 9. We’d been renovicted. About half of my neighbours agreed to take the buyout. The other half—about 10 of us—decided to fight the eviction; the Don Valley Community Legal Services has agreed to represent us if there’s legal action. Technically, the landlord has to offer us the chance to repossess the units after the renovations are done, but I’ve heard that many companies try to skirt that rule and rent out the units for more money. I’m worried that will happen to me.

The past couple of months have been very upsetting. My sense of stability is gone, and I’m constantly stressed out. It’s surreal that people are trying to kick me out of my home. I’m an optimistic person, but the anxiety is affecting my health. In 2013, I had surgery to remove a brain tumour, and I still have memory lapses, cognitive damage and trouble with my balance. The stress isn’t helping. I knew the market was hot, but I’m not a homeowner, so I didn’t think it would ever affect me.

If the situation doesn’t resolve itself in our favour, I’ll have to move out. The question will be where. WoodGreen is building affordable apartments for seniors on Gerrard Street, but there are only 35 units, and competition is stiff.

I’ve been talking to some of my former neighbours, and they haven’t found anything that wasn’t a basement for less than $1,200. I only make about $22,000 a year from my pension and the part-time work I do for the Wilderness Committee—$900 is pretty much all I can afford. If all else fails, I’ll probably have to leave Toronto and stay with one of my siblings, who live out west.