Longtime Carman House tenant faces eviction

Pictured above, Carman House Museum which has included an upstairs apartment for decades. (The Leader/Comfort photos)

IROQUOIS – The Municipality of South Dundas is getting out of the landlord business, and the burden of that decision is weighing most heavily on one longtime South Dundas resident.

A retiree from Ross Video, Elly Bosman is by all accounts a model tenant who has occupied the 950 square foot apartment located in the upstairs of the Carman House Museum since 1990.

Elly says she has always paid her rent early and keeps an eye on the museum which is open to the public only during the summer months. She tends to the outdoor gardens as if they were her own and keeps the apartment as immaculate as the museum below it.

For decades South Dundas, and prior to that the Village of Iroquois has rented out the apartment. It has been a benefit deterring vandalism, and having someone in the building to report issues. In the past, Elly has reported furnace failures and basement flooding.

One of the problematic windows.

As a longtime tenant who was accustomed to reporting issues to her landlord, when she noticed that two of the upstairs windows were broken and leaking, Elly didn’t think it was much of a stretch to report the issues to her landlord.

With the help of her brother Hans Bosman they sent the township a letter outlining a number of issues with the apartment, which included the leaking windows, some mould issues that the two ended up rectifying themselves, and a number of other items.

“What we wanted was to meet to discuss the issues,” said Hans, “But they [South Dundas] just sent legal representatives.”

“We didn’t want to go to court. We only wanted to meet with them. We only went to court because they went to court,” said Hans.

South Dundas went through court proceedings to have Bosman evicted. As a result of the Landlord and Tenant Board tribunal proceedings, member Philippe Rabot decided November 17, 2017 that Elly will have to move out by June 30, 2018.

“As a ratepayer, it really bothers me how these people have been treated,” said a longtime neighbour and lifelong resident of South Dundas who encouraged Elly to tell her story publicly.

“Is this how we treat people here in South Dundas? These people came to the table not looking for conflict, only for a resolution. They were not looking for a handout. They wanted to participate in the solution. What they got was a big problem,” he said.

In the eviction application, South Dundas stated that its intention is to convert the rental unit for the museum’s use.

After filing this application with the Landlord and Tenant Board, Donald Lewis, South Dundas’ director of planning and enforcement and chief building inspector issued an order saying that the rental unit could no longer be occupied for residential purposes because it does not have a separate exit leading directly to the outside and a separate heating system. That notice has been on the door of the Carman House Museum since August 2017.

During the proceedings Rabot determined that $10,000, including $5,000 for the separate exit and $5,000 for apartment upgrades including the window replacements would be the costs necessary to maintain tenancy.

He ruled that it was reasonable for the landlord to rely on economic factors to terminate residency.

“I can fully appreciate the distress which the tenant must have felt upon learning that the landlord was seeking to end her tenancy after 27 years, knowing that she was not to blame for the deteriorating condition of the rental unit,” said Rabot in his case analysis. “It is heartbreaking to see that anyone would lose their home because the landlord finds it too costly to maintain the residential use. Nonetheless this is an option the Act allows for,” he wrote

All I wanted was just to stay here. That’s always what I wanted. I like to be here. This is my home. –  Elly Bosman

“In my mind, the municipality spent more on court and engineers reports than it would have cost to just repair the windows, which by the way still haven’t been repaired,” said Hans.

Notice posted by South Dundas bylaw.

“I think it’s important for us to tell this story,” said Irma Jackson, Elly’s sister whose property is adjacent to Carman House. “We’re talking because we have nothing to lose. She’s evicted. We wanted to share this story because we want people to know how this transpired. We want to make the community aware of how this municipality is treating this resident.”

Elly and her brother and sister realize that the decision is not likely to be reversed, but have found that a lot of people don’t agree with what has been done by the municipality.

“We don’t need staff to respond, but we would like to know from our elected officials how this got to where it is today,” said Hans. “Our hope is that some public pressure will bring this issue into the public forum so that we can hear the reasoning behind all this. If council made this decision, we would like them to reconsider it.”

The Leader called to discuss the matter with South Dundas officials, but did not get a response.

In December The Leader asked South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde about the situation at the Carman House. She responded that she could not comment because she had declared conflict of interest in the matter.

“It would be great if people would contact members of council to let them know their feelings on the matter. A lot of people we have talked to thoroughly disagree with what has been done here,” said Hans. “We want people to tell council what they think and to ask them to reconsider and revisit the issue.”

“It’s about time we stand up and say something,” added Jackson.