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Young Ontario family says they were denied apartment but landlord kept deposit

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A young Ontario family had been approved to move into an apartment last month, but at the last moment, their hopes were dashed when they were told the apartment had been rented to someone else.

"We were shocked and very hurt by it. We were excited because we actually planned to have our son's birthday party there," Ashley Thomson of Brampton told CTV News Toronto.

Thomson, her boyfriend Mathew Worsley, and their new baby and toddler are currently living at Thomson’s parent’s home and they have been anxiously trying to find their own place.

"We just want to get out on our own and have our own little family together," Thomson said.

Thomson said they were relieved to get an apartment unit in Brampton and on July 18, 2022 Golden Equity Properties told them in an email, “We are pleased to advise you your rental application…has been approved. We look forward to you joining our community.”

Thomson said she and Worsley gave the company a $1,800 deposit for the apartment unit.

But on Aug. 31, 2022 -- a day before they were supposed to move in -- they said they received a notice that read, “The [approval] letter was issued to you in error. Your rental application was in fact refused. We regret the inconvenience.”

The couple said it caused problems for them and meant they had to stay with Thomson’s family indefinitely.

As well, they said after a month and a half of asking for their $1,800 deposit back it has still not been returned.

"We weren't able to get into the unit that we were approved for originally, so we would like to get that money back so we can find another rental," Thomson said.

Tenant advocate Geordie Dent is the executive director of the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations and said if a rental agreement falls through, a landlord must return any deposit to the potential renter.

“The landlord agreed to a contract and once they take your money they are supposed to rent to you," Dent explained. “If you give money for an apartment, you've got to get an apartment, and if things don't work out the landlord is supposed to return your money."

CTV News Toronto reached out to Golden Equity Properties and spokesperson Ian Copnick said, “There was some misinformation on the landlord’s end regarding whether or not Mr. Worsley had in fact sought to cancel his rental application and subsequent lease of his own volition, which would have entitled the landlord to retain his last month’s rental deposit.”

“That misinformation stemmed from recent changes in some key personnel at the building (both the manager and superintendent), and resulted in the landlord’s lease processing department here in Montreal being given incorrect instructions. Those instructions have now been countermanded, and Mr. Worsley is being reimbursed his deposit in full.”

“We apologize for our error, and appreciate your diligence in following this story to its amicable conclusion,” Copnick said.

Thomson said it was a huge relief to get back the $1,800 deposit which they can now use to help them find another apartment to rent.

“We are really happy now because now we can get back on the hunt and try and find someplace to go," she said.

Rental prices have gone up about 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area over the past year and it’s currently considered a landlord's market meaning it's hard for some renters to find an acceptable and affordable place to live. 

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