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RedRocket191

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From today's Star:

Tenant, 77, wins battle to stay put
October 12, 2007
Joe Fiorito

Anne Bowman came to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal on the arm of her son Jerry. She was facing eviction. She looked fierce, but she was tired. Jerry said, "We took the Ossington bus, then the St. Clair bus. It took us forever to get here."

Anne is 77. She has lived in her apartment for 53 years; there is your forever. She had a stroke a while ago. Her neighbours still look in on her, the shopkeepers take care of her, and Jerry helps.

But her new landlord, a woman, wanted to kick Anne onto the street and give the apartment to her son. The boy, in his teens, wants to be a cop. Any cop who would shove his way past ...

Oh, I won't string this out.

Anne won.

Here's how victory unfolded: She came wearing black stirrup pants and a cream-coloured shirt. Her hair was permed. She wore a trench coat against the threat of rain. She leaned on her cane in the waiting room.

Jerry paced and fidgeted. "Since my bypass, I'm not the relaxed guy I used to be. I'm very uptight." You'd be, too, if your mum's future was at stake.

Anne's lawyer arrived with a satchel full of case law. Jerry gave her some letters from Anne's friends and neighbours. And, at that moment, the landlord, her son, their lawyer and some others strolled by.

Anne said, sotto voce, "Son of a bitch." Her sotto needs work. Her lawyer offered a gentle caution: "If you swear, they can throw you out of the hearing." Anne agreed to put a lid on it.

The adjudicator for the afternoon was Mr. E. Sangmuah. He cleared away the quick cases first: adjournments, agreements and so on. Anne tried to follow along, but she doesn't hear very well and she was chilly. She said, "I need a hot chocolate." People smiled.

And then her case was called.

After some legal back-and-forth, the landlord took the stand and revealed that her knowledge of the apartments was vague; her husband does the real work. She also testified that her son would not pay rent while he was in school. The economics of replacing a paying tenant with one who pays no rent remain unclear to me.

The boy, a strapping fellow, testified that he wanted to live on his own so he could see what the real world was like. Anne's lawyer observed that, in the real world, people paid rent.

And then Anne was called.

The adjudicator instructed her on the proceedings. Anne said, "I can't hear you." He said, "I'll pretend I'm calling out to my kids in the yard."

He, at least, has a yard.

Anne said the landlord never came around. "They don't even cut the grass out front. It'll look like a forest pretty soon."

And she talked with clear vigour about her long tenancy. The landlord's lawyer declined, wisely, to cross-examine.

After closing legal arguments, Mr. Sangmuah shuffled some papers and came to a swift ruling. "In my view, the circumstances justify denying the eviction."

Anne trembled. Jerry's eyes were wet. The crowd in the hearing room smiled.

On the way out, Anne spotted the landlord's lawyer, plump and shiny in his suit, walking down the corridor. She couldn't help herself. She muttered, "Not a very good lawyer." And he heard her and he wheeled and snapped, "Not a very good tenant." And that tells you all you need to know about him.

Moments later, in the fresh air, Anne sighed. "I'm glad this is over. I haven't slept in weeks. I haven't eaten." And then she went home.

I was outraged when I first heard this story a few months ago, but now that I see how humbled and gracious she is, I'm having second thoughts.
 

AndreaPalladio

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Back when it was still Landlord and Tenant Court in the courthouse at 361 University, it was the best show in town. Nice to see that hasn't changed since they moved it to the tribunal.
 

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