Evictions for PEI tenants evicted for Tim Hortons employees have been reversed

Brenda Hanson says she is

Brenda Hanson says she is “over the moon” to be staying at her home in Souris, PEI. (Brian Higgins/CBC – photo credit)

Three tenants of an apartment building in Souris, PEI, have won their battle against eviction notices they received from the building’s owner, local Tim Hortons franchisee DP Murphy Inc.

But it’s a bittersweet win for at least one of them.

After a hearing on the evictions earlier this month, PEI’s regulator of rents – the Iceland Regulatory and Appeals Commission – ruled on Friday that existing tenants’ leases would remain in place and those tenants could remain in their homes.

Brenda Hanson is one of three residents who have struggled to stay in her home in the small town on the northeastern tip of the island.

Brian Higgins/CBC

Brian Higgins/CBC

She said she has started collecting boxes and is preparing to move, but has not yet found a new apartment.

“I’m delighted to be staying,” she said, adding of her landlord, “If I go, I’ll go on my own terms, not his.”

DP Murphy operates several Tim Hortons franchises in Prince Edward Island.

According to documents the company filed with IRAC, the company had planned to use the building to temporarily house foreign workers who came to work at the cafe’s Souris branch.

DP Murphy’s attorneys declined to comment on that story.

Tense rental and labor market

Hanson said the need for housing — and labor — is well known in the community. But she said the evictions have not helped with those challenges.

“Every day you turn on the news, the biggest problem is there’s no place to live, no housing,” Hanson said.

“And I understand there aren’t any workers either, but we shouldn’t have to leave our house to house them.”

Brian Higgins/CBC

Brian Higgins/CBC

The decision sparked mixed feelings from tenant Beverly Harris, who had already made arrangements to move from her two-bedroom attic apartment to a half-sized apartment.

“I feel pretty good that we overruled the eviction,” she said. “The other part of me is sad that I had to move.”

Harris said she felt “compelled” to move. She had started looking for another apartment when she wasn’t sure how the hearing would turn out.

“When I went looking for an apartment, there wasn’t much vacancy,” she says.

“I think I took this apartment out of fear…. I ended up moving there because we didn’t get our decision until Friday and it was kind of too late to turn back.”

Harris is paying rent on both homes this month and needs to downsize because her new apartment in a senior living facility is so much smaller.

She said the process was costly; She has hired a mover, donated some of her belongings to charity, and pays for storage of other items.

She said she is seeking compensation from her former landlord “just to cover my moving expenses because it was an additional expense for me that I didn’t plan for,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s unfair to ask, plus the stress we’ve been through.”

Appeal period not yet expired

With the IRAC decision behind them, both women said they are now awaiting the end of the appeal period so they can proceed.

“I haven’t gotten rid of my boxes yet,” Hanson said.

According to IRAC, parties to an eviction decision have 20 days to appeal.


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