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Eviction notices mistakenly sent to Toronto tenants, landlord's lawyer says

TORONTO — Lawyers for a Toronto landlord say tenants in a west-end apartment building were mistakenly sent eviction notices this week as the company rushed to shut its offices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TORONTO — Lawyers for a Toronto landlord say tenants in a west-end apartment building were mistakenly sent eviction notices this week as the company rushed to shut its offices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tenants at the building said the landlord, Golden Equity Properties, issued notices to some units and shut off water on multiple occasions during the health emergency.

Residents said issues with the building's management predated the COVID-19 crisis but had now created unacceptable conditions for those self-isolating or working from home to curb the spread of the virus.

A lawyer representing Golden Equity said Thursday afternoon the four eviction notices sent to tenants were a "clerical or accounting error."

Ian Copnick said tenants were free to tear up the notices, adding the company has "no desire to put anybody out," particularly under the current circumstances. 

He said the company, which took over the building last August, shut off the water once to conduct emergency repairs after a pipe burst.

The Ontario government, meanwhile, said provincial tribunals will not issue eviction orders until further notice in light of COVID-19.

The province has also said it applied for a court order to suspend the enforcement of eviction orders, and that sheriff's offices have been asked to postpone any enforcement scheduled for this week.

One of the tenants of the Toronto building, Emina Gamulin, said two units were served with eviction notices this week over what she said were false allegations that residents had paid their rent late.

Gamulin, who did not receive a notice, added the building was without water Thursday for the third time since the COVID-19 health emergency began.

She said the landlord had not communicated with residents that the notices were sent in error, even though a group of tenants sent a letter to the company on that and other issues earlier Thursday.

"Can I be certain these were sent in error or not? I can't," she said.

"I have a hard time believing that Golden Equity Properties is consistently making errors like this."

Gamulin said renters are in a particularly precarious position and many others are likely at risk of losing their homes.

She noted economic measures announced this week by the federal government allow homeowners to defer mortgage payments by six months but offer no such relief for those who pay rent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press