Rent fight leaves Miscouche senior 'robbed' of her own home

·4 min read
Wanda Gaudet says she has lived in the home, tucked in a quiet, tree-lined street in Miscouche for seven years. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)
Wanda Gaudet says she has lived in the home, tucked in a quiet, tree-lined street in Miscouche for seven years. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)

A 73-year-old Miscouche woman who successfully fought two illegal rent increases and the threat of an eviction, says she no longer feels comfortable in her own home.

"This was my home," said Wanda Gaudet. "I figured I'd be staying here until my next move wherever that was going to be, but she robbed me of it. It's not my home no more," said Gaudet, who has lived in the two-bedroom home, tucked in a quiet, tree-lined street for seven years.

"All this took its (toll) I'll tell you that. My sleeping habits are gone, I'm up to three, four o'clock. It's just like I don't want to be here now."

Last November, Gaudet's landlord increased her rent by 2.3 per cent, more than the one per cent allowed by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

That would have increased Gaudet's rent from $1,027 to $1,050.

Handed an eviction notice

Gaudet said she may have been willing to agree to the increase, but the landlord wanted her to start paying for her own electricity as well. She said that would be another $250 a month.

Order from the Director of Residential Rental Property denying the rent increase.
Order from the Director of Residential Rental Property denying the rent increase.(Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Gaudet took her case to the Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property.

But several weeks before the hearing, Gaudet received an eviction notice, stating she had to be out by April 30 so an addition could be added to her seven-year-old duplex.

"If she would have came here and sit down and like we would have had a talk, I might have went for it. Who knows?" said Gaudet.

Gaudet said she cried for a week with the stress of the eviction notice hanging over her head.

"What am I going to do? I've got to be out. I've got nowhere's to go," she said.

On March 9 the rental board overturned the eviction notice, the 2.3 per cent rent increase, as well as the order for Gaudet to pay her own electricity.

'We have a cash flow issue'

The Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property also ordered the landlord, Timberlea Developments Inc., to refund the $36 in additional rent Gaudet had already paid, and it told the landlords they couldn't raise the rent for a year.

Wanda Gaudet and her daughter Christina Arsenault were able to take the rent increase issue to the Director of Residential Rental Property.
Wanda Gaudet and her daughter Christina Arsenault were able to take the rent increase issue to the Director of Residential Rental Property.(Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Linda Gallant of Timberlea Developments Inc. is Gaudet's landlord. She told CBC News Gaudet's unit and the other five that make up the three sets of duplexes, are operating at a loss.

"We were contemplating selling the units because we have a cash flow issue," she said.

Gallant said Gaudet must have misunderstood her company's request.

"We were never telling her she had to do this. We asked her, would she be willing to pay more, and pay her utilities."

Gallant said all of the other tenants agreed to the 2.3 per cent increase and to pay for their own electricity.

"So now we just have one unit that is not paying for itself," Gallant added.

"There was no need for animosity. We never threatened or intimidated and, of course, she may have felt that and obviously she did because that's the words she used but we had no intentions to do that. That's not the way we do business."

Notice of another rent increase

Gaudet may have won her case, but her fight was far from over.

Four days after winning her case, Gaudet got notice of another rent increase. This one was for 10.89 per cent, which would have increased her rent by $113 a month to $1,150, and again the notice included a request that she pay her own electricity.

Gaudet's daughter, Christina Arsenault, said it was difficult to watch her mother go through such a stressful process.

"I was blown [away], I didn't know what to think of the letter," she said.

Linda Gallant, secretary-treasurer of Timberlea Developments Inc., and her son Jonathan Gallant, a shareholder in the company.
Linda Gallant, secretary-treasurer of Timberlea Developments Inc., and her son Jonathan Gallant, a shareholder in the company. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

The Gaudet family contacted the rental board, which contacted the landlord and told her the 10.89 per cent increase was invalid and would not go ahead.

Gallant and her son, Jonathan, who is also a shareholder with the company, said the rental board told them even though the rental increase was turned down, they could reapply for an increase later.

They said they didn't know they would have to wait a year to do that.

"You have to go by the guidance of IRAC," he said. "I'm not placing the blame on IRAC. We just thought we were following the rules the proper way."

As for Gaudet, she said she hasn't decided her next step, or whether she'll stay in her duplex.

"Will I stay here? I don't know. I don't know."

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