By Mike Williscraft
About two dozen tenants of Escarpment Inn and Residences attended a special meeting to connect them with key services after it was learned their landlord was attempting to evict them on a few day’s notice.
Grimsby Fire Department has been dealing with the Olu Akinbolue, the property owner at 575 Main St. W. in Grimsby, right near the Winona border, for many months.
Paramount at the meeting was the first thing Cain said, “I want to go on the record right now saying this place is not being shut down because of the fire department. The fire department has not issued an order to close,” said Cain.
He explained to the residents that the department had issued work orders going back about six months, but none had been acted upon.
“Up until January, we had attempted to work with the landlord in a proactive manner via email and correspondence but, in January, the owner rejected her obligating to any timeline for bringing the property up to standard, in writing. At that point, an order was served for the owner to bring the property up to compliance,” said Cain.
Chief among the concerns was the lack of working smoke alarms in any of the units, but there is a series of other issues.
Initially, tenants were notified to vacate by April 1, 2015, but on Friday, March 6 that deadline was pushed up to noon on Monday, March 9.
This move precipitated the fire department to host the emergency meeting at the Peach King Centre.
“We wanted to be able to streamline the process for you and provide any contacts for services you may need,” Cain told the group.
Representatives from the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Grimsby Affordable Housing, YMCA and Niagara North Community Legal Assistance were all on hand.
Lisa Ridsdill, a paralegal for NNCLA, told those on hand they could not be evicted on such short notice.
“She can’t just throw you out,” said Ridsdill, adding that each tenant’s circumstances is different.
“If the property were to be closed, there would have to be an actual order that would force them to close and you just heard there is not. They cannot just shut the doors.”
Monday morning, fire and police were called to the inn after vehicles pulling trailers wheeled into the parking lot.