Evicted for renovations, tenants says finding suitable new apartments is tough

Eastwood apartment tenants evicted from buildings on Carleton Place and Cornell Place at the end of May so renovations can take place say their only option is to live in Forest View Suites, which is a step down from their previous homes.

“There is no stability. People come and go as they please, do whatever they want in those two buildings,” said Bertha Muswagon, who is currently staying with her brother in Cross Lake after having been forced to give up here apartment at 6 Carleton Place May 31. “I would like something stable so I can sleep peacefully and go to work in the morning.” 

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Armour Property Management is currently renovating 100 units in four apartment buildings on Carleton and Cornell, at a total cost of about $7 million, says company president Mike Romani. Work should be done by the end of the year.

In order to complete these renovations, Armour ordered almost all of its tenants out of these rental units by May 31. Despite getting the legally required three months’ notice, some residents were still left scrambling to find new places to stay.

Romani said these people were given the opportunity to occupy apartments in Forest View Suites (formerly known as Princeton Towers) and reserve a spot in their old building once the renovations are complete.

However, for some tenants, this does not represent a permanent solution to their housing situation. 

Since leaving her old apartment at the end of May, Muswagon resisted the offer to live in Forest View, given its growing reputation for poor maintenance and lax security

Muswagon is also reluctant to continue renting from Armour, since she said the company still hasn’t returned her damage deposit from 6 Carleton Place or fulfilled their promise to provide her with $500 in moving assistance. 

Despite these reservations, Muswagon admitted that she is going to accept an apartment in Forest View’s south tower this upcoming fall, since she has to return to Thompson to start her job as a daycare worker once again.

“I don’t have any other choice,” she said July 12. “I don’t have anywhere else. Everyone else is full.”

Former 6 Carleton Place resident Kathleen Joan Moose accepted a two-bedroom apartment in Forest View’s south tower following the May 31 deadline, since it was the easiest option available to her. 

However, she said her current living situation is less than ideal.

“That building is disgusting. Garbage all over. The elevators are always stuck,” she said. “When you come in and out keys don’t work most of the time and they hurt your fingers. Everything is awful there in that building. I can’t wait to move out.” 

But Moose isn’t returning to her former building once the renovations are wrapped up. Despite being a resident of Thompson for around 30 years, she’s planning on moving to Winnipeg by the end of July to live with her daughter.

“I am really sad. I didn’t really want to move but I’m tired of this,” said Moose, describing the ongoing challenges of living at Forest View. “My window screens are not up. I can’t even open my windows. I can’t even cook here because the fire alarm is so sensitive, so I eat at work.” 

Muswagon hopes that her upcoming stay at Forest View will only be only temporary and says she will constantly be on the hunt for better housing opportunities within her price range.

Romani says that there are plenty of affordable housing options available in Thompson if these tenants check the right boxes.

“If they’re a good tenant and they have income and they can show that they can prove to pay their rent, or if they’re on assistance from the government and they’ve got the proper paperwork, there’s a lot of places in Thompson that I can send them to that has vacancy,” he said.

A Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) representative said anyone with questions about the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, including scenarios where they are ordered out of their apartments or houses, should contact the RTB’s Thompson office at 204-677-6496 or by email at rtbthompson@gov.mb.ca.  

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