Landlord gave tenancy termination notices one month before L’Orignal apartment fire

Par Antoine Messier et Joseph Coppolino
Landlord gave tenancy termination notices one month before L’Orignal apartment fire
The owner of the nine unit apartment complex received a demolition permit from Champlain Township which was attached to tenancy termination notice sent out in early December, 2023, one month before a fire destroyed the building. (Photo : Joseph Coppolino)

The owner of the burned-down apartment building on County Road 17 in L’Orignal previously informed tenants of his intention to tear down the building, signing tenancy termination notices a little more than a month before the fire. 

On December 2, 2023, Albero Neyra provided tenants of the building an N13 tenancy termination notice, officially informing them their leases would be end on April 30, 2024.  

The legal notice, obtained by EAP, states the residential building was to be destroyed to allow for the construction of a commercial warehouse. Neyra also obtained a demolition permit from Champlain Township on November 18, 2023. The demolition permit was attached to the N13. 

The N13 form is used to end a tenants rental agreement for the purpose of destroying, renovating or changing a building from residential another use. If the rental unit is located in a residential complex that contains at least five units, landlords must offer the tenant a monetary amount equal to three months’ rent or an alternative unit. Had the building been destroyed in May 2024 as planned, tenants would have been entitled to compensation. 

Citing the ongoing police investigation, Neyra refused to speak about the fire itself, however, he said he is open to giving some compensation to the residents. 

Despite sending out the N13 notices, Neyra explained he was still looking to sell the building instead of demolishing it before the fire occurred. He said the building had many structural issues and an expert in construction may have been better qualified to own and repair the building. 

Poor Tenant-Landlord relations 

Neyra also explained that his relationship with the tenants was strained, another reason he wanted to sell or demolish the former motel. 

“I wasn’t interested in managing quarrels. We didn’t have good relations,” said Neyra of the building’s tenants in French. “It’s a shame what happened, but at the same time, it’s not surprising with the kind of people they are.” 

Past and present tenants of the building agree that the relationship between the landlord and residents was often fraught. 

Emily Young, a former tenant who moved out of the building in December, explained she often overheard screaming matches between other residents and the landlord.  

“I don’t think there was one tenant that got along well with him” said Young. 

Other tenants living in the building at the time of the fire said Neyra often became frustrated and berated tenants. Julie Tomkinson, sister of current tenant Jude Belisle, said she and other tenants filed complaints against Neyra over the last few years. 

Neyra said he could not confirm whether or not complaints were made against him, but said he filed complaints against some of the tenants himself. 

The Fire

The fire started around 12:45 p.m. Friday, January 5, after a breaker connected to a vacant apartment was flipped by the landlord, according to several residents. The fire quickly spread to the entire building, forcing the residents to evacuate and destroying all nine apartments. According to the Hawkesbury detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), all occupants were evacuated from the building without any injuries reported. 

Champlain Township firefighters along with crews from Alfred and Plantagenet Township, Hawkesbury and East Hawkesbury were all called in to fight the fire. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Ontario Fire Marshall are currently investigating the cause of the fire. 

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