Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Battle royal over North End home

Man who died in standoff lost fight with brother to stay in only home he knew

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Was it an expression of resolve to keep fighting against eviction or a signal of something more chilling?

That's the question being raised by words Andrew Baryluk spoke just weeks ago as he fought a losing court battle to avoid being kicked out of his home.

Baryluk's chances of being able to stay at 512 Stella Ave. hinged on Manitoba's top court agreeing to hear his appeal of a Residential Tenancies Commission order granting possession of the home to his brother, its rightful owner.

Baryluk was ordered to move out of the 11/2-storey home by the end of July 6, but the case stalled until the appeal process concluded.

"If you are unsuccessful, when was your intention to move out?" Court of Appeal Justice Chris Mainella asked the 52-year-old July 10.

"Oh, I intend to die in that house," Baryluk responded.

Police identified Baryluk Thursday as the man they found dead inside the home following a tense 17-hour armed standoff.

At least one shot was fired from within the home, prompting officers to return fire, police said.

'I can have sympathy for you. I can think that you got an unfair shake, but I can't give you leave to appeal unless you show me there's a question of law'

It remained unclear whether Baryluk died of a self-inflicted wound or at the hands of police.

In the months prior to his death, Baryluk had been fighting a bitter battle with his brother, John Baryluk.

About a decade ago, their mother died and bequeathed an equal ownership stake to each of her five children.

Four of them -- including Andrew Baryluk -- signed over their ownership share to one of the brothers, court records show.

"The understanding amongst the siblings was that Andrew would be allowed to remain in the unit as a tenant," the commission said.

Baryluk believed the agreement entitled him to live there "for the rest of his natural life" -- a claim backed up by a sister and another brother, the commission stated.

The brother who had assumed ownership told the commission he was the only sibling with the financial means to look after the property.

"He was of the understanding that he would look after the house and allow Andrew to live there only until it would start to cost him money or he could no longer look after it," said the commission.

There was no written agreement involved, the commission noted.

"It cannot be said that any sort of agreement occurred and that all parties made assumptions upon which they are now acting upon," said the decision.

After 10 years of owning the home, Baryluk's brother needed to make major renovations.

He told the commission he'd spent thousands on repairs, while receiving $240 a month in rent from Baryluk.

The roof needed replacing and he could no longer afford to keep the home, the commission said of his testimony.

The brother formally sold the home in January and the new owner was to take possession May 30.

He told the commission he'd given Baryluk more than a year's notice, something Baryluk disputed.

"The only condition that was yet to be filled for the transfer of possession was that (Baryluk) remained in the house and the purchaser wanted vacant possession," said the commission.

On June 6, the commission signed off on an order of possession for Baryluk's brother as the home's official landlord and ordered Baryluk, the tenant, to be out by no more than a month later.

Baryluk asked the courts for leave to challenge the decision, saying the commission ignored his "life lease" arrangement.

"My siblings and I bought my life lease with our portions of my mother's estate. I do not deny John's right to sell the property, but it is his responsibility to inform the purchaser of my life lease," Baryluk argued in his appeal filings.

Mainella rejected his argument, ruling the appeal wasn't over a question of law or the commission's jurisdiction.

"I can have sympathy for you. I can think that you got an unfair shake, but I can't give you leave to appeal unless you show me there's a question of law," Mainella told him.

Mainella encouraged him to make arrangements to move out in case sheriff's officers were summoned to enforce the order.

"You don't want to be having to make alternative arrangements while you're on the front lawn," Mainella said.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2014 A5

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Updated on Friday, August 1, 2014 at 8:16 AM CDT: Adds photo

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