Harry's long 30 days

Harry Fry's common law partner of 26 years was ill for a long time.

On Oct. 14 of last year, Judy Monpetit, 60, finally lost her long battle with lung disease following a dogged fight.

But another blow was in the offing for Fry.

Only 25 days after Monpetit's death, the Pearl Crescent resident received an e-mail from the property company representing owner Core Development Group letting him know he had to leave his home in just 30 days.

"To me it was very ignorant of them," Fry said of the notice in a recent interview. "Judy just passed away and I was stressed out over that."

With the help of his son Dan, Fry answered the e-mail on Nov. 20.

More correspondence arrived, which created another wrinkle in Fry's tenancy in the Chatham townhouse he's lived in for more than two decades.

Posthumously, his deceased partner was served by Avanew Property Management with an N-13 terminating her lease agreement, advising that the unit had to be vacated by March 31, as a long list of upgrades to the dwelling need to be completed.

To top it off, Fry has received another e-mail from the company saying he has to leave his home because the building is going to be demolished.

The latest correspondence from his landlord arrived in Fry's mailbox the first week of February. Enclosed is an N-4 form for Monpetit, carrying an eviction notice because of unpaid rent. The form states that $712 is owed.

"Which is it?" Fry asked. "I'd like to know."

Paralegal Jeff Wilkins, a Chatham-Kent Legal clinic housing stability worker representing the tenants of Pearl Crescent, said he'd like to know too.

"I'm confused about what Core is doing," Wilkins said of the notice and e-mails. "At first they had their representative offer cash for keys, then they issued an N-13 saying the units are mold infested, and now they've sent an e-mail saying the units will be demolished.

"If I'm confused; just imagine how the tenants feel,"Wilkins said. "I'm amazed they've (Core officials) cleared out most of the crescent and now they're saying they're going to convert or demolish it, yet earlier they told the tenants the matter was going to be dropped.

"I can't imagine living with the fear of being evicted," he stressed. "Looks like they are doing anything possible to get rid of these people. It's got to be terrifying."

The Chatham Voice and the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic reached out to Avanew, Core, and a paralegal firm representing Core Development Group, but no answers were received as of press time.

As for Monpetit receiving two notices to vacate after her death, Wilkins said he had to "see it with his own eyes to believe it."

Wilkins said the company must be mistaken that Fry is not a tenant, as Montpetit was the original party who rented the unit 26 years ago. Fry had lived with her at the residence for more than 20 years and has plenty of documentation and receipts to show he has been paying the rent from his own bank account, Wilkins explained.

"This is going to have to go to an A1 hearing under the Landlord Tenant Board," he added. "If you've been paying rent to a landlord and you don't have a lease, the lease is implied."

Fry is just one of the tenants who have faced uncertainty regarding their tenancy over the past year.

In January of 2022, six buildings, including five four-plexes on Pearl Crescent and one on Orchard Heights, were purchased by Core. According to tenants, the sale kicked off a high-pressure campaign to get tenants out of the buildings. A hired paralegal from Welland, now the subject of an official Ontario Law Society complaint, offered cash for keys to some residents, but also told other tenants black mold in the building was a dangerous health hazard.

Of 24 tenants living in six buildings at the time of the sale, only five remain. One of the units has been rented out to new tenants, but according to the long-time residents there are now 18 vacant units.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice