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 third in our series of horror stories from recently ousted renters

Rachel Guest

28, content strategist at a start-up
Evicted in 2017 and 2019

Five years ago, my husband and I moved into a condo at Front and Spadina. We were paying $1,575, and we loved the space, which had a beautiful kitchen and living room. In June 2017, we received an email from our landlord saying, “My wife wants to do something with the apartment, so you need to leave.” We wrote back, “Okay, but we need to know more.” He never responded. Our lease would be up in September, so we figured we had no legal right to stay.

A month later, the Ontario government introduced new requirements for landlords. When we told our landlord he needed to send us an N12, he refused, insisting we’d already consented to leave and that was enough to hold up in court. For months after we moved out, we tried to find out who was living in our old unit. We even snuck up to the floor and knocked on the door, but no one answered. I’m sure our landlord rented it out for more money.

A friend rented us her condo for a year, and then we had to find another place. Apartment hunting was a nightmare. We searched for four months straight, but everything we saw was tiny and dark or disgusting. We often had to leave work early, search for hours and come home late, ready to pounce as soon as a new listing came up. I cried at my office over the stress.

In October 2018, we found a condo for $1,900 in Liberty Village. It was a great find: the going rate in that neighbourhood was more like $2,200. We thought we would finally be able to put down roots. The condo was super small—we called it our shoebox in the sky—but everything was clean and white and bright.

Last March, just after we’d settled in, the property manager sent us an email telling us that the landlord wanted to move back in. We got the N12 in June. I thought, This has to be a joke. This can’t be happening to me. I thought it was a sign that maybe our time in Toronto was up. We considered moving to Oakville, where I grew up, but we can’t afford to buy a house, and it’s no cheaper to rent there than it is here.

We have to be out of our apartment by September 30, and it looks like we’re going to have to raise our budget to at least $2,100. I feel defeated. We’re trying to save money to start a family, but we can’t think about any of that because we need a place to settle down first. I don’t even care if it has cockroaches or rats—I just want a sunny apartment where I can stay for a few years.