A woman who has been fighting what she says was a renoviction from her Halifax apartment has not only had the landlord’s application dismissed, but was also awarded $837.91 in compensation and expenses by a provincial Residential Tenancy Officer.
Stacey Gomez has lived in her Church Street apartment unit for nearly five years, and was one of the last tenants remaining. The landlord served tenants with a DR5 form — a voluntary agreement between a landlord and a tenant to end a lease due to renovations — after a ban on renovictions was lifted in late March along with the province’s COVID-19 state of emergency.
The landlord said there were repairs that were needed, including remediation of high radon levels and mold issues in the building.
However, Gomez refused to sign the DR5, and told Global News in August that at that point, things got “ugly” between her and her landlord, Marcus Ranjbar.
Gomez appealed the termination of tenancy, and filed a counter claim of her own for repairs and other issues, including mold.
A hearing was held on Aug. 31, and in a decision released Sept. 13, a Residential Tenancy Officer dismissed the landlord’s application, saying “it could not be determined or identified if the apartment has high levels of mold associated with water damage or not.”
“The question whether a tenant has to vacate or not due to renovations this extensive has not been presented nor am I satisfied the necessary permits are in place to qualify for demolition,” wrote Kim Sinclair in her decision, noting that there were no air quality reports performed on the unit, nor a building permit issued to the landlord for demolition or construction.
While the decision denied Gomez’s request for compensation for mold due to a lack of air quality testing or physician’s note, it did award half of the request Gomez made because she had to use an alternate door after the back patio and front step were removed.
She was also awarded $320.50 because the landlord didn’t investigate or repair a clogged toilet, and $137.70 because the landlord ripped out the garden.
Her request for payment of $1,147 for radon gas exposure was denied, however, because no evidence was presented by either side that radon gas was an issue or that anyone suffered “a loss due to exposure from it.”
The total amount awarded was $837.91.
The decision also noted Gomez mentioned several times during the hearing that she had felt threatened and intimated.
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She made the same allegations to Global News in August, and shared a photo of a stern notice posted on her door that mentioned potential injury or death to herself.
“Landlord stated he never threatened the tenant in any way nor did he post the bad words warning sign in the alley but did post a letter in order to warn others and in an effort to remove himself from liability due to construction, it was never his intention to intimidate, and he never threatened Ms. Gomez,” the decision read.
“The tenancy officer makes no determination if the landlord has committed an illegal activity or specific intent in respect to safety or physical well being of Ms. Gomez.”
In August, Ranjbar told Global News he offered Gomez compensation to leave the apartment, as is required under the Residential Tenancies Act. He said he negotiated settlements with other tenants to give them up to six months’ rent, full damage deposit, $500 in moving costs and more than three months to move out.
“The health and safety of our tenants are important to us, we have received an environmental report that has identified safety issues within the unit and we are doing everything we can to remediate the issues at hand,” he wrote in an email at the time.
He also denied threatening Gomez.
— with files from Alexa MacLean and Alex Cooke
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