MONTREAL - At 90, Ed McKerness still loves to blow his harmonica but the WWII veteran was playing a sad tune after receiving a notice that his apartment dwelling was to be repossessed by a new landlord.

Under Quebec law, a tenant of a building of five units or less must give up his apartment if a landlord files to take it for occupation for himself, a parent, child or financially dependent family member.

Most tenants do not contest such notices but the feisty father of five, who lives in an upper duplex unit in NDG with his youngest son, was not planning to go gently.

Landlord repossession has become increasingly common in recent years and has occasionally been manipulated to to remove a lower-paying tenant to eventually replace with a tenant paying much more.

But a tenants’ advocate recognizes that not all such requests are rent-raising ruses.

“It’s very common,” said Arnold Bennett. “Some of them are certainly legitimate. People want to move in themselves or move in family members and other cases are not legitimate. They want to get rid of people who've been living there a long time and have low rents and find a way to jack up the rents.”

In this case, the landlord had already repossessed the downstairs dwelling but McKerness had questions about the legitimacy of the second repo request, as there were lingering doubts whether the man the landlord presented as his son was, in fact, really his son. 

“He'd already booted out the previous tenant downstairs and moved in so they seemed to be playing musical chairs and so he didn't convince the judge and he won his case,” said Bennett.

McKerness, who has lived at the home for 30 years, is relieved to have avoided the inconvenience and stress of a moving and is happy to know that he will be remaining in his home for the foreseeable future.