Local renter receives special hearing

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Monique Paquette stands on the doorstep of her home in Riverside Estates near Chatham. Paquette is one of only a handful of Ontario tenants to be granted a Mobile Access Terminal meeting with the Landlord Tenant Board to accommodate her disabilities and computer illiteracy.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Chatham woman in a legal tussle with her landlord at Riverside Estates has won the right to a Mobile Access Terminal (MET) meeting with Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board.

Monique Paquette, a resident of the mobile home park on Longwoods Road is but one of a handful of people in the province who have been granted a MET hearing, due to her diminished mental capacity caused by a brain injury and the fact she is computer illiterate.

The Landlord Tenant Board hearing is being held to hear an application from the landlord who is seeking rent arrears from Paquette.  On May 2, the board rented office space in Chatham to accommodate Paquette, and provided her with an assistant to help her navigate the technology in the virtual hearing.

Results of the hearing are not yet known.

Paquette has a number of concerns with her landlord and stopped paying the $331 monthly rent on the cement pad where her mobile home rests. She says she took the action in January 2023 to protest the fact the trailer park no longer provides proper maintenance such as grass cutting and garbage removal. She also claims there are numerous fire code violations that put many of the seniors within the park at risk.

But the biggest concern, Paquette said, lies with the owner asking for a police criminal background check.

It’s a violation of her rights, she said of what she calls a “felonious” request.

“I have nothing to hide,” Paquette explained. “I’m as out there as out there can be. I want it to be safe here, not just for me but for the old people that have lived here for 30 or 40 years. My biggest fear is me or someone else dying in a fire. If I’m paying taxes, I want what I pay for.”

Paralegal Jeff Wilkins, housing stability worker for the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic, said the MET hearing is a first in the municipality and to his knowledge, one of the first in Ontario. A four-hour block of time was set aside for the meeting.

“They’re basically setting up an office for Monique,” Wilkins explained. “It’s fairly extreme and as close to an in-person hearing as you can get. I’ve talked with many of my colleagues from around the province and don’t know of anywhere else MET hearings have been held.”

In 2014, Paquette moved to Chatham from Windsor, purchasing the trailer outright with money she received in an inheritance. But she says she’s faced ongoing problems with three different owners, as the property has changed hands twice since she bought it.

Paquette, who worked at a Windsor grocery store for 25 years before she was injured, thought Riverside Estates would be a calm and peaceful place, however, the 61-year-old said that has not been the case. She said she’s had problems with landlords from the start and staved off an eviction notice at the same park from a previous landlord in 2017.

The application lists the park’s owner(s) as Bashir Akhmad, BC London Inc. and 14502019 Canada. Attempts to reach the landowner were unsuccessful as of press time.

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