A Maple Ridge mom whose landlord removed her front door and windows has since had her faith in humanity restored.
Jamie Hemson’s front door and windows were removed by her landlord, who served her an eviction notice for not paying her rent in July and August.
Hemson said she returned home at about 8 p.m. on Aug. 1 to find her home thrown open to the elements, and to thieves. Through the gaping hole where the front door had been, she had lost a television, a laptop computer for her son’s online schooling and other items. Bookshelves were tipped over, as thieves ransacked her home, she said.
Hemson resorted to boarding up the windows and doorway with plywood to secure the premises. Her sons, 5 and 13, went to live with family.
She told her story in the media, the Residential Tenancy Branch became involved, and the doors and windows were re-installed on Monday afternoon. She has still not paid almost $5,000 owed for July and August rent, which is still owed.
The public read her story, and have made numerous generous offers, including a free home in White Rock for one year, she said. One person donated $3,000, another offered to pay two months rent, and she said three online fundraisers have been started to help her.
Having lived in Maple Ridge for a year, her two boys are now at home in the city, she said, and the family wants to stay.
“We won’t end up on the streets,” Hemson said.
The provincial government has restricted evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will be lifted on Sept. 1. She assumes her tenancy at her current residence will soon come to an end. So she is grateful for the generosity from the community.
“It’s amazing. It’s nice to have, after a year of everything being taken away from us,” she said.
Hemson’s relationship came to a bad end. She was supported by Cythera House, which helps women transition from abusive relationships, but was not able to find more affordable housing in the city. So she stayed in the rental house that costs $2,450 per month plus utilities. She quickly got behind.
“My financials were messed up by the breakup,” she said.
There are two suites in the house, and she asked to sublet one to help pay the bills, but says her landlord refused, she said.
Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, said in social media that the landlord risked a fine for taking away the front door and windows.
“Actions like these that place an individual or family at health or safety risk can result in significant financial penalties,” he said.
Hemson has explained her current situation to the landlord, but he still wants her out. He even referred to damage to the premises – a heart decoration to honour frontline workers in her front window. It is completely removable, she said.
“It’s 1,000 pieces of tissue paper. I did it with my kids.”
Her landlord could not be reached for comment.