Renfrew home owners can't move into new home as current tenant refuses to leave
RENFREW -- Stan and Tracey Villneff purchased their first home ever back in February. It’s located on an out-of-the-way street in Renfrew. But when the couple went to move into the home May 1, the current tenant was still living there and refused to leave.
"We explained to the girl that’s there, the tenant, that we had to move in and she says, 'I don’t have to leave until the 20th,'" says Tracey Villneff, referring to the 20th of May, when the stay-at-home order was initially scheduled to end.
"And I don’t have to let you in my house, she says, because of COVID," elaborates Villneff.
Ontario extended the stay-at-home order until June 2.
The grandparents have been renting a farmhouse in Dacre for the last 12 years, and chose to finally go all in on purchasing a home to move closer to their children and grandchildren. But with Tracey laid off from her job due to the pandemic and Stan currently on strike at his workplace, their situation has become financially stressful.
"We’re at the point we’re paying two different rents now," says Stan Villneff. "Paying a mortgage there and utilities, so it’s been very trying."
The couple adds that since taking custody of their new home they have not charged the current tenant any rent.
When approached by CTV News Ottawa, the tenant in the Villneff’s new property declined an interview, but said they felt they were well within their rights to stay in the home as they are.
"They cannot be made to leave, they cannot be forced to leave," says John Dickie, Chair of the Eastern Ontario Landlords Organization. "The tenant can stay until the state of emergency is lifted, and until the landlord and tenant board process an (eviction) application."
The current tenant can decide to leave whenever they choose while under the state of emergency, but if they do not, Dickie says the eviction process is a long one that could keep the Villneff’s out of their home for months.
"So if these home owners are lucky, that may be three months, four months now," says Dickie, who adds that tenants in Ontario are favoured over landlords in most situations.
"I think many people would think, I’ve bought the house, I own it now. Why can’t I move into it? Well, the reason you can’t move into it is because Ontario’s landlord-tenant law creates all these rights, and abilities on the part of the tenant to stay in place."
"The bailiffs, the sheriffs, the officers, everybody, they’re saying they can’t do nothing about it," says Tracey.
The Villneff’s say they have a good understanding with their current landlord to stay until moving is possible, but that another person is waiting to move into their home as well.
"We just want to be in our home, that’s all," says Tracey. "We just want to go to our home that we bought, that we should legally be allowed to live in. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We honestly don’t know."