Randy Beals has been living in an apartment in the Clayton Park area of Halifax for the past seven years.
Following the death of his longtime partner, Lillian, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April and later died as a result of surgery complications in July, the future of Beals’ living situation has become uncertain as he’s now being forced out of their apartment — with nowhere else to go.
In addition, his recent health struggles haven’t been making his complicated living situation any simpler.
“I was in the hospital for a couple weeks … I got ill, doctors’ appointments left, right and, centre. It’s just sad and now it’s even worse, because I have nowhere to live,” he said, adding that his illness recently caused him to retire from a 25-year tenure working at a nearby hospital.
“Where am I going to go? I don’t want to live on the streets, I don’t want to live downtown, around tents and things like that.”
Because his partner was the only name on their apartment lease, MetCap Living, the property management company, is legally able to terminate their rental agreement under Nova Scotia law, despite the fact he and another family member are continuing to live inside the unit as paying tenants.
Melissa, who only felt comfortable providing her first name, is Beals’ stepdaughter and is now acting as his primary caretaker. She said she filed a request to take over the lease following her mother’s passing.
A month later, she was notified by the building owner that her application had been declined.
“There (was) no response from the landlord. Finally, I spoke with the superintendent who then advised me that they wouldn’t provide her with any answers as to why the application was declined at the time. All she knew (was) that by the end of August … they would put something on the door that we had to leave,” she said.
“Their response was essentially, ‘You have to find other accommodations’.”
Melissa added she was then told she needed to arrange a hearing with Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancy Board if she wanted to have any chance of salvaging her stepfather’s apartment.
In the meantime, Melissa said she sent follow-up emails to the property management company and was told that “the best they can do” was give the family until the end of September to vacate.
“Because I had obviously put an application with the Residential Tenancy Board, we couldn’t leave until the hearing, which was scheduled for October 25,” she said.
On Nov. 6, a decision was made and the Beals family’s plea to continue staying in the unit had been dismissed.
“They did not take into account my father and his situation. It was essentially just based around me, that I (was) considered an occupant,” Melissa said, adding her only remaining option is now to appeal the board’s decision with the province’s small claims court.
“I can’t even properly grieve the loss of my mom, who is my world, because every day I’m up … searching websites, calling to see if there’s housing availability, I have my own medical appointments,” she said.
“I don’t sleep … it’s a lot for one person.”
‘How can he survive?’
Melissa said her stepfather is now unable to walk because of a buildup in fluid related to a congestive heart failure and is routinely in the hospital.
She said if her last-resort appeal in small claims court is rejected, her 64-year-old stepfather’s living conditions will quickly worsen.
“He (will be) homeless, essentially,” she said.
“There’s not like he has a family where he can go stay with. That’s it, he’s out … a senior man, who’s 64, has severe medical concerns. How can he survive?”
Melissa said she wishes their landlord would “show some empathy” for their situation, considering their rent payment continues to adhere to the same schedule as when her mother was alive.
“He’s now on disability. So, you can just imagine, with the little bit of money that he receives, if he was to find another place for like, $1,800 to $2000, how could he live?” she asked, adding that Beals’ medications cost about $400 per month.
Melissa said her stepfather is currently paying a monthly rent of $959 per month but adds that other surrounding units are worth much more, which she believes might have something to do with MetCap Living’s reasoning for wanting to terminate their lease.
“There’s no other reason, the rent’s always been paid on time, so that has to be it,” she said.
In an emailed response to Global News on Friday, a MetCap Living representative said they “do not believe the law in Nova Scotia provides individuals who are not leaseholders with continuing occupancy rights.”
“The court found in our favour and dismissed the application,” said Angie Craig, a director of operations at the company.
“Should the resident make a new application or appeal the current decision, we will of course respect the decision of the tribunal.”
Looking ahead, Melissa will have one final opportunity to appeal the property management’s decision in Nova Scotia’s small claims court on November 16.
As for Beals, he’s just hoping that he can continue living in a space that he’s called home for the last seven years.
“I’m glad I’m here, I’m happy, the place is very comfortable … do they have any care for the people that are here?” he asked.
“If my rent was behind or something like that, I’d be very disappointed, but I’ve been up to date every month.”