Canada Landlord loses bid to evict Chinese-Canadian couple

20:37  16 june  2017
20:37  16 june  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

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Dot and Paul Pang say they intend to make human rights application or launch civil suit over alleged racism.

Landlords must follow a series of steps in order to legally evict a tenant. It is against the law for landlords to evict tenants on their own, without going to court AND getting a court order directing the tenant to move out.

Paul and Dot Pang were threatened with eviction after complaints and allegations of racism at One Rosedale Road. © Jim Rankin Paul and Dot Pang were threatened with eviction after complaints and allegations of racism at One Rosedale Road.

A landlord’s attempt to evict a Chinese-Canadian couple from a Rosedale apartment building for “substantially” interfering with others’ enjoyment of the place has been quashed, but the story is likely not over.

Dot and Paul Pang, the only Asian tenants at 1 Rosedale Rd., say they intend to make an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal or launch a civil suit alleging racist and discriminatory behaviour by tenants and the landlord.

Last week, the property manager and three tenants testified before the Landlord and Tenant Board that the Pangs were the problem.

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“I am unable to find, on a balance of probabilities, that the (Pangs) have engaged in conduct, which substantially interfered with the Landlord or another tenant’s reasonable enjoyment” of the building, adjudicator Roger Rodrigues wrote June 12 in dismissing the eviction application.

Property manager Aubrey Hannah described this to reporters as a case of smart, good people behaving badly, on all sides. But in paperwork, the landlord alleged it was the Pangs who had “substantially” interfered with others’ “reasonable enjoyment” of the building.

One tenant not called as a witness felt Dot had been using her phone to record him, while speaking Chinese. Another testified Dot has used “profanities” against him but then, under questioning by the adjudicator, said he had “misused” the word and assumed by the “tone” of the foreign language Dot was speaking in that she was swearing at him.

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Yet another, who the Pangs had accused of harassing them, complained of getting a “dirty look” from Dot.

The testimony of two of the three tenants at the tribunal — all of them white — was problematic, and “not credible” in one case, the adjudicator found, while Dot’s was credible and “straightforward.”

Dot, a former journalist, and Paul, who works in banking, said in a statement that they feel “vindicated. We told the truth and we have for years. And these are the types of false allegations that the tenants have been making about us for years.

Their lawyer, Caryma S’ad, called the ruling “scathing” against a landlord that has “no case.”

“The crux of the complaints was that my clients speak Chinese to each other in common areas, and that they allegedly give other tenants dirty looks. And yet the landlord went ahead trying to evict on petty and frivolous grounds.”

Hannah told the Star the landlord respects the board’s decision.

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“We made this application at the request of our tenants,” he told the Star. “We sincerely hope we won’t have to do it again.”

The Pangs moved into 1 Rosedale Rd. in 2010. Their ground-floor unit with walkout balcony to a private, shared lawn was ideal for their beloved, aging Shetland Sheepdog, Ginger, who died in early 2016. She was the reason, they say, for staying through all of the tension.

Friction with fellow tenants began immediately and grew worse over the years, resulting in calls to police at a petition against the Pangs. The landlord commissioned an independent investigation into allegations of racism and unneighbourly behaviour, some of which was blamed on the Pangs, which led to warnings that bad behaviour by any tenant would lead to an eviction notice.

That’s where the Pangs found themselves after complaints by three tenants that Dot had used the word “racist” around other tenants and loud conversations and phone calls, which the Pangs say were conducted in Cantonese.

The Star detailed a chronology of conflicts in the building, including the removal of human rights material posted by the landlord. A property management sign called on tenants to “stop the racial discrimination at 1 Rosedale Road immediately!” Management, it noted, was aware of harassment of the building’s “tenants of Asian descent.”

The Pangs are the only Asian tenants in the building. They shared notes, emails and the 52-page investigator’s report with the Star. The investigator found the removal of the human rights material by unknown hands was a problem and that the Pangs genuinely felt they were being discriminated against. But discrimination by any individuals could not be proven.

The Pangs, the investigator wrote, were “outsiders to the social fabric of 1 Rosedale.”

The couple showed the Star two defaced posters they placed in the laundry room to remind others of their laundry times. One had “CRAZY CHINESE” written on it.

The Pangs feel the eviction move was done to try to pre-empt an eventual complaint to the human rights tribunal. They are now exploring legal options “to address the discrimination and harassment they have endured,” including a rights complaint or civil suit, said their lawyer.

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