So my wife (33, 6 months pregnant) and I (34 m) have had a bit of a rough time. Our low-rise apartment on St.Clair caught on fire January 8th. All six units of our building were evacuated, with the 1st floor west-side apartment catching fire. Thankfully, nobody was injured, and all animals (including our two cats) were brought out safely.
Our landlord informed us on the day of the fire that we would back inside of our house within a few days. In the meantime, we were able to stay with my father-in-law.
We were able to contact our insurance, who told us we could claim up to $5200 in living expenses, which included clothes, food, room and board, and the cost of kenneling our cats.
After meeting with our insurance inspector the day after the fire, they determined that there was little-to-no damage to our unit, with only a faint smoke smell. The landlord's remediation company brought in air purifying fans to clean the air inside the apartment as well.
Jan 9: we were informed that our apartment would not be available until early the next week. Reason: needed the fire inspection company to check the safety of the building.
Jan 16: Delay until "late next week" (Jan 23/24th?). Reason: The landlord is replacing the gas lines.
Jan 23: Delay until "next week" (Jan 31st). Reason: Gas lines, fire safety still taking time.
Jan 31: Delay until "We are now only talking days". Reason: fire system has a defective unit. Gas work is complete.
Feb 4: Delay until "at least 2 weeks". Reason: Remediation company needs to sandblast and varnish the damaged units. This would create fumes in the existing units.
In addition to this, our landlord also included an addendum:
On top of this … I had a "reality revelation" this morning ... it's turning out to be a much bigger job than anyone EVER could have imagined. Winmar says that given ALL the various stages the project has to go through (including engineering, permits, all components of construction and many various inspections) it will be a minimum of 6 months, but more probably even 9 months, before the whole building is complete. Sadly they do not move from apartment to apartment, but ALL similar systems are done at the same time. That means all the framing happens (in all 3 apartments and basement), then all the electrical, then all the plumbing etc... in series. Only after the WHOLE job is complete will the hallway painting and new carpets be completed, and then the apartments be reoccupied.
At this point, we're getting a little desperate. As we are no longer able to stay with family, we're paying for an AirBnB using the remainder of our insurance living expenses. Our cats are no longer able to stay at the kennel, and the continued expenses for that are higher than we can afford. Leaving the city to stay with other family is currently not an option due to job constraints.
Our short term plans include:
Looking for a less-expensive AirBnB or short-term stay. It's difficult to judge how long we'll need it for, given the history of delays.
Getting in touch with the Toronto Tenants association
Contacting a lawyer for advice (no idea where to start with this)
Long term plans:
We're not sure if we're being "renovicted" out of our home, or if there's anything we can do to get back in more quickly. We're in the process of looking for another apartment to rent long-term.
Is there anything else I should be doing at this point? Or any additional resources or advice that people recommend?