Zoe Nagler is relieved to be able to stay in her one-bedroom suite at a seniors’ home in Comox after receiving an eviction notice in January.
The 46-year-old who has cerebral palsy has been living in d’Esterre Gardens, a low-income housing facility managed by d’Esterre Seniors Citizens Society, for the past six years. The facility’s minimum age requirement is 65, or 55 for people with disabilities, but Nagler was originally allowed tenancy because of her disability.
But in January, the society tried to evict her because of her age.
She contested the eviction in mid-March. An arbitrator ruled the society had no grounds to evict her, saying “the tenancy agreement does not authorize the landlord to end the tenancy if the tenant ceases to meet the age requirement.”
“It’s a great relief because there is nothing for someone on my budget,” she said. “I only get the shelter allowance for rent – $375 a month and that’s not a rent that exists anymore.”
Nagler said she would have had to move in with her mother if the decision had not been in her favour.
The Residential Tenancy Branch later determined that the basis for the eviction – section 49.1 of the Residential Tenancy Act – did not apply in Nagler’s case, as she was not living in a subsidized rental unit. While d’Esterre Gardens has been affiliated with BC Housing previously, their agreement expired two years ago.
The decision also detailed that she had never been required to demonstrate that she met the age requirement, and it would be unfair to evict her after she had already been allowed to live in the unit for six years.
Her lawyer, Joe Marrie, had taken the case pro bono after the original article was published in The Comox Valley Record.
“From the start, something seemed wrong about it, and people don’t always know how to argue their rights in these situations,” said Marrie. “I thought it would be really, really crummy to read about Zoe Nagler being put out on the street over something that seemed like it was totally unfair to do.
“My impression is that the society is doing its best to protect what it perceives as its interests.”
D’Esterre Senior Citizens Society denied a request for comment.
Teona Sparkes, a second underage resident who received an eviction notice, did not pursue arbitration and has decided to move on from the housing complex.