OMHM versus Danny Palladini Raises Serious Questions About Rights of Low-Income Tenants

Par Tracey Arial le 4 juillet 2012

The next hearing in the case of Montreal’s municipal housing authority (OMHM) versus Daniel Palladini will take place at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 9. It happens in room 2220 of the D wing at the Quebec Rental Board main office in the Olympic Village, 5199 Sherbrooke Street East.

The landlord plans to present one more witness, its employee Sylvie Marchand. She will speak for an hour and a half. The tenant won’t say who will testify on his behalf.

“I can not disclose the names of my witnesses given that I have good and sufficient reason to fear that witnesses named in advance will be intimidated prior to the hearing,” wrote Palladini to the lawyer in charge of the case for the OMHM. “I have no objection giving you a list at the start of the hearing.”

The case against Palladini, a 70-year-old man living in the Pierrefonds-based Manoir Roger Bernard building for seniors with low incomes, hinges on three key questions:

How do landlords prove that a tenant’s behaviour justifies eviction, if it does?

How do tenants prove that questioning tenant association spending leads to arguments with neighbours, tarnished reputations, intimidation and eventually eviction, if it does?

Do the disadvantages English-speakers face at Quebec’s Rental Board jeopardize a fair hearing?

As landlord, the OMHM must prove that Palladini’s behaviour has been so severe, he deserves to be evicted. Lawyers claim that it does in five ways: his behaviour “causes a serious prejudice” to other tenants and the landlord; his behaviour “causes a serious prejudice” to the landlord; he has been informed multiple times that his behaviour is unacceptable, the landlord has received letters of complaint from other tenants about him; and he harasses the representative of the OMHM.

Presumably, the representative referred to in this claim is Sylvie Marchand, the final witness in the OMHM’s case. Marchand has been general manager of the Pierrefonds building in which Palladini lives since 1989. Palladini says that she and he stopped getting along in 2005 when he served as witness for another tenant who was evicted. He says that since then, she has exaggerated every difficult situation he’s faced so that his behaviour looks worse than it is.

Ironically, Marchand won’t be working in the office in the Manoir Roger Bernard for much longer. She accepted a promotion to assist the director of the north and west region of the OMHM on May 7 and only remains in her post until her replacement, Monique Dupras, can herself be replaced. That internal job search is currently under-way.

Palladini’s main claim, however, is that he’s being evicted because he asks too many inconvenient questions about who controls the money distributed through tenants’ associations in OMHM buildings. Manoir Roger Bernard has two such associations, the Manoir Roger Bernard Tenants Association, which is registered under NEQ3367019208 and the Manoir Roger Bernard Pool, which is registered under NEQ3366664822.

Palladini says that his financial questions to both associations haven’t been answered for years, in part because the volunteer representatives on that board are unduly influenced by Marchand. Most of the witnesses who complained about his behaviour at the eviction hearings serve as directors on these associations.

In the hearings that have taken place so far, Palladini has found it difficult to explain to the Rental Board Commissioner how his concerns about the financial administration of the OMHM relate to his eviction. Each time he tries to make his case, the commissioner carefully explains that the Quebec’s Rental Board does not have a mandate to examine building administration in detail and that the issue in this case is Palladini’s behaviour.

Sylvie Marchand’s testimony may help tie the pieces together, but if they do, Palladini won’t be able to understand how. On June 20th, he received a letter from the lawyer representing his landlord in which he is told that Sylvie Marchand will be the final witness and that her testimony will last for an hour and a half.

“We strongly encourage you to have an interpreter on hand as her testimony will be in French,” says the letter.

Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, spokesperson for Quebec’s Régie du Logement, confirmed that this procedure follows Quebec Rental Board rules.

“The Regie will only provide an interpreter when someone is handicapped, when for example someone has a situation that would require sign language,” said Le Blanc. “The commissioner might speak to him [Palladini] in English. He has the right to speak English. Papers can be submitted to the board in English. Everyone else can speak in French and the commissioner is not obliged to translate their comments.”

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