Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where am I Going to Go?

92-year-old Florence Krusto fears she'll lose her home of 40 years because owner wants to sell.

A grandfather clause may save one grandmother from losing her home. Florence Krusto has called 146 Princeton Dr. home for the past 40 years. But she's afraid she'll lose her Mountain townhouse after the sale of the complex to a new owner.

Ron Wowk bought the nine-unit complex some time ago, converted it into a condominium corporation two years ago and has sold eight of the other units. Krusto's is on the market and she has been required to let potential buyers have a look at her home.

Wowk could not be reached for comment.

Krusto's church, the grocery store, bank and pharmacy are all within walking distance of the townhouse near Upper Ottawa Street and Fennell Avenue. Many of her friends live in her neighbourhood.

Krusto doesn't want to leave.

"I kept saying I'm not going to move," said the spry nonagenarian.

"Where am I going to go? I've been here so long I wouldn't know where to go.

"My friend says move to an apartment, but I don't want an apartment. I'm very comfortable here. When you go into the bank and they say, 'Hi, Mrs. Krusto,' it's a nice feeling."

The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal says she won't likely lose that feeling any time soon.

"It appears she does have extended security," said Carol Kiley, manager of program development at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.

"He (owner) will be able to sell her unit, but she will be able to stay there. The new owners will keep her as a tenant."

Krusto is a good tenant -- she takes good care of her tidy two-storey townhome, pays her rent on time and never throws any noisy bridge parties.

The 92-year-old is independent and does her own shopping and banking.

She cleans her house and fixes her own meals. She even volunteers at Good Shepherd.

The only cloud on the horizon is her health. She has spent brief stints in hospital for the treatment of ulcers, a problem her son says is probably caused by the fear of losing her home.

Real estate agent Al Cosentino, who is handling the listing, said Wowk left the sale of Krusto's unit to the very end to give her ample opportunity to buy the home or make other living arrangements.

"We never served her notice," Cosentino said.

"We never asked her to move. It's up to the buyer what they want to do with her."

Lawyer Jay Sengupta says a buyer will get the property, but they won't get to live there.

Krusto can stay put as long as she doesn't violate the Tenant Protection Act.

"Where the rental unit has been converted to a condominium, the tenant has lifetime protection against eviction by the owner," said the lawyer at the Mountain Legal Clinic.

Cosentino said Wowk doesn't want to move Krusto out. He's happy to sell it to her, even if she doesn't make the best offer.

"Even if we get a top offer we'll still give her an opportunity to buy it."

But Krusto doesn't want to buy. She pays $750 a month to rent and says she can't afford the $124,000 asking price. Nor does she want her children to have to take on the financial burden.

Matt Krusto worries for his mother's health if she moves out.

"I don't think it would do my mother's health any good to uproot," he said. "Psychologically, it would be a shock to her."


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