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Women move out after bullet pierces apartment

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Two Winnipeg woman who had a bullet whiz through their apartment have won a small victory after the traumatic experience.

Kate Cheng, 27, lived with another woman in her twenties in an apartment in the a Georgetown Park building in the 1600 block Pembina Highway — until a shooting happened there Dec. 8.

Cheng's roommate was eating at a desk in her bedroom when a bullet pierced a wall near her — spraying dust in her noodle soup — and lodged itself in another room.

Fearing for their safety, Cheng and her roommate have stayed elsewhere since the shooting.

"It’s not safe at all," Cheng told the Free Press earlier on Monday. "If the bullet can go through the wall, it definitely can hurt us. I don’t want to stay here."

However, Cheng said the women were having problems getting the property management company — Crystal Properties — to terminate their lease. The pair had a one-year lease that would have expired in September 2013.

They were told they'd have to sublet the suite, which Cheng's boyfriend, Peter Saydak, said was a challenge, especially during the holiday season. The suite is also still visibly damaged, with bullet holes in the walls.

The women's rental situation changed Monday afternoon when Cheng said she learned she'd be able to break the lease in January.

An official with Crystal Properties confirmed the matter has been resolved. "The tenant and the landlord have settled this matter," Karen Hoquis said by email.

Crystal Properties didn’t explain any policy it has in place to deal with tenants victimized by violence.

No arrests in shooting; neighbours have moved

Police confirmed there was a shooting on Pembina and said there have been no arrests so far.

The residents of the neighbouring suite have moved since the shooting, said Saydak.

"I understand that they have policies, right, you can’t just terminate a lease. But I think you make a bit of an exception when you almost get shot in the head. That’s when management comes in and says, ‘OK, these are crazy circumstances, we’ll do whatever we can, we’re sorry it happened,' " Saydak said.

Contact he had with the Residential Tenancies Branch during the ordeal was useless, he said.

A spokeswoman for the Residential Tenancies Branch said she couldn’t comment on specifics of Cheng's case, but said it had been resolved.

In cases involving domestic violence or stalking, the RTB spokeswoman said, tenants can stop their agreement if they believe their safety is in jeopardy.

If other safety problems arise, the landlord must look into complaints and try to help through measures such as issuing eviction notices to perpetrators.

"In cases of random acts of violence unrelated to a tenant or to the rental complex, tenants wanting to move out would have to find someone to take over the their tenancy agreement, or obtain the landlord's consent," said an email from the spokeswoman.

"The Residential Tenancies Branch is available to try to mediate a resolution with the parties if there are any further concerns."

Cheng moved to Canada from China in 2006 to study here as an international student. After graduating, she now works in retail and is applying for citizenship.

She said she hasn’t told her family about what happened because she doesn’t want to upset them.

"They would worry about me and ask me to go back immediately," she said.

"I’ve been here for more than six years. Everything is good, people are so friendly, even the bus drivers. They (help) you a lot when I first (came) here. I can’t believe this happened."

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 2:58 PM CST: Photo

3:46 PM: Women told they can break lease; adds comment from property management company.

3:50 PM: edited

3:53 PM: edit

4:46 PM: Updated story

5:21 PM: Rewritten.

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