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Ninety-year-old renter turfed for pigeon feeding

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Ninety-year-old renter turfed for pigeon feeding
Photo: Alexander Gamauf
11:15 CEST+02:00
A 90-year-old Geneva man has been ordered evicted from the apartment he has been renting for more than 50 years for allegedly feeding pigeons on his balcony, according to a news media report.

The pensioner recently received a registered letter informing him that he had to leave the three-room flat in the heart of the city by the end of this month, Le Matin newspaper reported over the weekend.

“What’s happening to me is scandalous, unthinkable,” the elderly tenant told the newspaper.

Brolliet, the company managing the apartment building, said his lease was being terminated for “just cause”, referring to the man’s “intolerable behaviour” for feeding the pigeons after letting them come into his balcony.

The tenant, however, told Le Matin that he had not been feeding the birds since the death of his wife two years ago.

“And it’s not a crime,” he added, noting that he always paid his rent as required and even ahead of time.

The real estate management company maintains that it sent out the eviction letter after complaints from neighbours came to the attention of the building’s owners, a cooperative group.

“I don’t know how they could be so nasty,” said the pensioner, who faces a challenge trying to find another apartment for the 900 francs a month he is currently paying (including charges).

“Neighbours received pigeon droppings and and we are certain they came from his place,” Guy Tornare, head of the cooperative that owns the building, told Le Matin.

The situation has been known for many years but could “no longer be tolerated” after the building was renovated in February, Tornare said.

“I almost received (pigeon) excrement on my head during a visit,” Claude Guillod, an administrator with the coop, is quoted as saying by Le Matin.

Guillod said the bird droppings are dangerous because they can spread diseases.

“What has happened to this man is sad but it is because he has not listened that we have come to this.”

Guillod rejected the idea that the building owners wanted to get rid of the 90-year-old in order to raise the rent, saying that the issue was one of “hygiene”.

Christian Dandrès, a lawyer for Asloca, the tenants’ association, said the reasons given by the owners do not justify terminating the man’s lease.

Dandrès said he was “extremely shocked” by the decision, calling its “indecent” given the age of the tenant involved.

The nonagenarian vows he will stay in the apartment but he has only two weeks to appeal the lease termination to a commission that regulates such matters, Le Matin said.

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