Two weeks after speaking to the News about the disrepair, raising rent and unhealthy environment at the Skyline Apartments, Kristina Rough’s “biggest fear” came true.
“It was on Saturday at 3:45,” she said. “Ken (Schick, the landlord) knocked on my door and handed me a note and I am pretty sure he still had the stairwell door open so that he could scoot out. He just handed me a blank envelope. And out he went. He didn’t explain anything.”
The envelope contained an eviction notice.
“Thank you for your list of items we need to address in your apartment,” the notice, dated June 30, says. “We regret that we will not be able to complete your list while the apartment is occupied.”
The eviction notice doesn’t mention whether or not Rough and her young family are welcome to return to the apartment after the repairs are complete.
“I think it’s because I talked to the media,” said Rough. “I have asked him to repair things before. And he’s known about (a lot of the concerns) for years.”
Rough knew that getting evicted was a possible consequence of speaking out, but she didn’t think it would actually happen, she said.
After she and Schick both spoke with the News, and she gave him a written list of all the repairs, Schick visited the unit to collect that month’s rent and began fixing some of the concerns.
The big hole in her living room wall was patched, five screws were put in to secure the soffits on her balcony ceiling, a metal guard was put across one of the stairs in the common hallway where the carpet was ripping and the front door was fixed.
“I was just happy, excited to see things were done,” said Rough, noting that it was Schick himself who came and did the repairs.
But, within two days of those repairs, the front door stopped working properly again, said Rough. On Wednesday, when the News went to Rough’s apartment to discuss the eviction, there was no need to call up or be buzzed in, as the front door opened easily and did not lock.
“I don’t care where this person is or whoever the owners are, they need to take responsibility as well,” said Rough. “I get it, Ken can only do so much. But wouldn’t it then be his job to take it to the owners and say, ‘Listen, the place is falling down.’ Come into the bedroom, you can see the pile of black mould growing there.”
Tummel Holdings has owned the property since 1995. None of the company’s owners live in the Yukon, Schick said. But the decision to evict Rough was “made locally,” he said Wednesday.
“I can’t fix everything that needs to get done unless I can go in there, I need to see it,” he said. “I need the place empty to do that. The only way to get the place vacant is to officially evict them.”
Schick said he would consider letting Rough move back in when the work was done, but was quick to add that he’s heard she has found another place.
After receiving her eviction notice, Rough called her former landlord, Sonny Gray, and asked if she could be evicted for speaking out publicly.
He told her that under the Yukon’s Landlord and Tenant Act, renters can get legally evicted without any reason at all.
Gray had encouraged her to speak out. And, as a property manager of units across Whitehorse, he lined her up with a unit in the nearby Kontiki Apartments.
Rough’s rent will increase by $275 per month. But she’s happy to have a home for her family.
“We’ll make it work,” she said. “I don’t have any other options.
“I just really hope the place actually gets fixed and (Schick) doesn’t just rent it out again once I leave. People shouldn’t have to just shut up and put up with that, with that black mould. It’s not good for their health. It’s sad.”
Schick does intend to do the repairs on the unit before anyone else moves in, he said.
“In an older building repairs are ongoing, but had she let me know sooner, the list wouldn’t be this long,” he said. “I would love to say there’s not a long list, but there is. I wish she would have told me ahead of time but she chose not to advise me before she advised the media. It’s a no-win situation.”
But Rough wasn’t evicted because she brought forward things that needed to be repaired, said Schick. And other tenants should know they won’t get evicted if they have issues, he just asks they bring it to his attention, he said.
When asked whether she regrets speaking out, Rough is quick to reply.
“Not for a minute,” she said. “The public needs to know how people are living because they have no other option. Optimally, I wanted to leave here to move into my own home. It gets frustrating. I hope the government does something.”
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org