My visit to the mainland was full of love, laughter, and donuts. And, of course, George Constanzaesque tirades about how everyone is terrible except for my friends, hairdresser, tattoo artist, and the Harbour Air pilot who let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat.
But this post isn’t about my mini adventure on the mainland. Instead, this is about the beginning of my journey towards homelessness.
As mentioned in my previous post, my biggest birthday surprise was getting the hint that I’d be evicted. Up until today, all I knew was that the landlords needed to reclaim my suite as soon as possible. I’d known that the husband, Fred, had been in poor health for years. Since moving in, I’ve seen him struggle to use the front steps. Their daughter and son-in-law have mentioned that Fred’s health has been rapidly declining. He’s been hospitalized several times this year.
So, his requirement for an accessible suite is a valid reason for evicting me. In BC, landlords can take their rental property/suite back for personal use or to house a close family member.
But, because this news came three weeks after I’d declined to pay a 10% increase in my rent starting February 1st, 2022, the timing seemed off. The wife, Nicole, had been friendly to me up until I countered their proposal with the maximum allowable limit of 1.5%. Now I am almost paranoid that she’s vindictive enough to come into my room and bludgeon me with a candlestick while I’m asleep.
I’d made it clear to them before moving in that I had a transitional place lined up, which would give me time to find a place within my budget. I knew the previous tenant had paid more than what they were offering the suite to me. I also made it clear that I was looking for a long-term home. I am tired of moving, and every time I move, rent has gone up everywhere.
On the 21st, when Fred asked when we could meet, he said Nicole would not be involved and suggested bringing a friend.
I generally prefer to deal with meetings on my own because hearing people tend to use my friends as an interpreter. I dislike having people speak on my behalf, especially if they are passive by nature. I am empathetic but not passive. However, as I discussed my situation with more people, I realized it would be cautious and wise to have someone present as a witness.
My first choice was Ben, who lives on my street. Should they use Fred’s disability as an excuse to kick me out so that they can rent the place to someone else at a higher rate, Ben could act as an informant! Except, he ended up in Vancouver the day after I flew there and is still there noshing on donuts. The other people I could think of were working, unless… I was bold enough to ask a different neighbour.
It would be a big ask as I had not interacted with this person since he left the company I work for a year ago, but good god, I was desperate. So, I knocked on the door, and their daughter answered. For the first time in my life, I asked the question, “Is your dad home?”
Then, her mom came to the door. This person was someone else who also knew me, but instead of a year, it had been 15 years since we last interacted. What was I going to say? “Oooh, ‘member me? I had Ronald McDonald-red hair. Now my hair is, well, still ridiculous. Anyway, I’m in a pickle. My landlords want to kick me out. Do you have sweet nunchuck skills that you’ve been itching to put to use?”
She appeared to have been in the middle of a video call, so she gave me her email address. I returned home, prepared to email her an explanation why I’d turned up at her door looking for her husband’s help. But, I had no internet. The wifi extender was no longer appearing as an available network, and the password for the router didn’t work anymore.
I used mobile data to send the email.
Around this time, I got a text from Karlie. I discussed my situation, and she offered to be the friend to sit in on the meeting. The upside of having Karlie as a witness is that she is also deaf, which means Fred would need to deal with me directly. (Karlie might’ve also been a former Evil Squad member. She would need to confirm this, though.)
It was kind of her to offer, but I still wanted to see if my backup neighbour, Andrew, was willing to step up. Again, it works to my advantage to have intel on the suite after I leave.
So, today at noon, Fred, Andrew, and I met. My first question to Fred was why Nicole was not a part of the meeting. He explained that he and Nicole had different opinions on how to approach this. He emphasized that it was not anything I’d done, nor was it retaliation for my refusal to pay that 10% rent increase.
Along with being a witness, Andrew ended up being my notetaker. It’s always infantilizing when people choose to speak to the hearing person I am with instead of responding to me directly in writing. In Fred’s defense, though, he has trouble writing.
Because my internet had been down since I got back from Vancouver yesterday, I went to Yann’s place to print out a few emails and pages from the government of BC website outlining the rules for evicting a tenant. I highlighted the section showing that landlords are legally required to give the tenant two months to move out. Moreover, the law requires them to award one month’s rent to compensate for the fuckery. I highlighted the part showing them that they could be on the hook for additional compensation of 12 months’ rent if they’re found not to use the suite for the intended purpose.
I was willing to cooperate but make no mistakes, I know my rights. No longer do I stick gum in people’s hair for revenge. I’m an adult now: I seek genuine apologies, and sometimes, monetary compensation.
Unlike Nicole, Fred seems to understand that moving out ASAP is not an option for me. I have agreed to move out by April 1st, so I have 4 months instead of 2 to find a new home. If I can find a place before then, they would prefer I move out sooner.
After the meeting ended, Andrew came into my suite to give me some additional information that he couldn’t scribe while Fred was talking to him.
Since moving in, I’ve had fewer than five people inside my suite. I am astounded how Andrew–of all people–ended up with an exclusive look at how I live. Perhaps he now understands why I was questioning why Fred would opt to move into my tiny suite rather than make their suite accessible, especially since there’s a side door with the potential for a ramp.
Then again, I don’t have a mobility impairment: I don’t get to decide what Fred’s needs are.
As for my needs, I would like a place of my own before April 1st.
I dropped by work after this meeting and told Will and Yann how it went. Will is also facing an eventual eviction. I explained that a roommate situation wasn’t ideal as I am surprisingly clean and tidy, to the extent that I make my bed every morning and clean my dishes after every meal. I often also put the dinnerware away rather than leaving them on the drying rack! I was surprised to learn that Will wasn’t surprised. Another reason is not wanting to feel excluded in my home when my hearing roommate has non-signing guests over. Given how expensive this city is, it might be my only option. But, I cannot sincerely advertise myself as a fun-loving ray of sunshine of a roommate.
I had a dream the night I learned of my pending eviction that I ended up moving to The Highlands. Now, I know the commute to work would be insane, but I am actually keen. Karlie tells me she’ll reach out to her horse buddies in The Highlands to see if anyone has a place for me to rent out. Oooh, to be far removed from the terribleness that is civilization. I am tingling with hope!
Anyway, I shall use my strong legs to walk uphill with a container of cookies for Andrew and his family. I’m glad I’ve got good neighbours!
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