Justice Delayed due to COVID-19

The Chronicle Herald‘s Jim Vibert on a new homeowner left out in the cold – literally – because of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Today, Tony and his wife are homeless — couch surfing, despite buying their first home earlier this year. It’s a three-unit apartment house in Dartmouth, and they planned to move into one of the units when the sale closed on April 2. In fact, as a condition of both his mortgage and insurance, Tony is supposed to be living there.

In January, when Tony bought the place, the former owner served the tenants in one of the three units with the required three months’ notice to vacate so that Tony could move into that unit when the sale closed.

On April 2, Tony and his wife, who’d given up their previous abode, arrived with their worldly possessions ready to move into their new home.

But the tenants — three adults — hadn’t vacated the apartment and made it clear that they had no intention of so doing. Since January, when they’d received and signed the eviction notice, the relentless march of the coronavirus had brought COVID-19 to the province. It became their shield against eviction, and a club that could pound poor Tony Faulkner to financial pulp.

Buying your first home, while stressful, is supposed to be a joyous time, a momentous event in your life.

Unfortunately, for Tony, it’s a nightmare that won’t end.

He’s got the law on his side and all the legal documents to prove it, but no one is enforcing the law, and the COVID-19 crisis is the reason, or the excuse, depending on which side of the door you’re standing.

Unfortunately, I’ve come across situations like this in my own legal practice. For people who know how to game the system, the pandemic is a gift.

The courts are slowly but surely starting to adapt to our new reality – I recieved a memorandum yesterday explaining that some family law matters can be heard by correspondence. Hopefully our other authorities will soon figure out how to help people trying to follow the rules and punish those determined not to.

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