Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Top Story CP

N.S. student tenants: Saga of mouse-infested rooms shows need for tougher tenancy law

Published

5 minute read

HALIFAX — Two Nova Scotia students who spent eight months fighting to be repaid rent after they departed their mouse-infested apartment say their case emphasizes the need for legal reforms to protect tenants.

Kavita Krueger, Hayley Inglis and Mackenzie Cornfield won a small claims court case to have excessive security deposits and improper fees refunded, but they say the Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Act lacks sufficient penalties to bring an end to these practices.

Inglis and Krueger said in interviews Tuesday they left the student housing in south end Halifax last December following a mouse infestation, saying a doctor’s note obtained about health impacts of the infestation permitted them to give one month’s notice.

However, it took decisions from the province’s director of residential tenancies and a small claims court before they were repaid security deposits that had exceeded the maximum permitted under the law — half a month’s rent.

Krueger, a 22-year Dalhousie University student studying neuroscience, said the province is not adequately overseeing the tenancies law, and legal reform is long overdue. “There’s nothing preventing landlords from doing whatever they want,” she said. Inglis, a 25-year-old former Dalhousie student who is now working in Kamloops, B.C., said there need to be higher and more frequent fines for breaches of the legislation.

Cornfield was unavailable for comment.

After the Aug. 9 court order, Krueger was repaid a $75 “application fee” charged by the landlord and two months rent — totalling $1,480 — that the landlord had collected through an automatic debit on Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, 2021 after the students had moved out. The court document says Inglis and Cornfield were each repaid the same application fee as well as $670 each that was deemed an excessive security deposit.

The small claims court adjudicator rejected the landlord’s argument that the Residential Tenancies Act allows charging some advance rent beyond the security deposit.

The landlord, David MacAdams, said in an interview Tuesday he didn’t believe before the hearing it was illegal for tenants to provide advance rent that exceeds a security deposit. He said the application fees charged help cover administrative costs and are normally refunded.

MacAdams said he will nonetheless comply with the court order and stop the practice of asking for advance rent and application fees. Regarding reform to the law, he said: “I really doubt there really are problems out there. I’m not aware of any big problems out there.”

However, the Dalhousie Legal Aid service — which represented the students — says their case illustrates how residential tenancies legislation is biased against tenants. It says a $1,000 penalty that can be assessed for breaches of the act’s provisions hasn’t been applied in over 15 years.

“We receive numerous phone calls from students every year about illegal leasing practices, and the situation keeps getting worse,” said Mark Culligan, community legal worker at Dalhousie Legal Aid. “Nova Scotia needs a system of landlord licensing or administrative fines.”

Kevin Russell, the director of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, agreed the legislation is in need of reform but said tenants and landlords have similar complaints.

“Landlords experience the identical issues that tenants experience, going through a lengthy hearing process followed by a protracted small claims court appeal process before receiving an outcome on cases involving thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and damages,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. He said his group has called for an enforcement unit in Nova Scotia based on a model established in British Columbia two years ago.

Colton LeBlanc, the recently appointed Service Nova Scotia minister, said in a telephone interview Tuesday the new Progressive Conservative government intends to work on updating the legislation in this mandate.

“There’s many complexities to the act. This issue has been raised, and it’s on our list to review as part of our work to modernize the act,” he said.

On Wednesday, as part of a housing announcement by Premier Tim Houston, the government unveiled legislative changes to streamline the security deposit claim process so it is easier for tenants to recover their deposits.

Blaise Theriault, a spokesman for Service Nova Scotia, said the department doesn’t keep statistics on the number of fines levied under the Residential Tenancies Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

COVID-19

Opposition leader to meet with freedom convoy leaders in Ottawa

Published on

With a healthy Prime Minister Trudeau isolating due to covid protocol, Canada’s Opposition leader Erin O’Toole says he’s only too happy to meet with representatives of the Freedom Convoy.  Thursday as O’Toole emerged from a caucus meeting about the results of the last election, he swept aside all questions from the media and made a statement about the Freedom Convoy headed to the nation’s capital.

Saying he’s never seen the county so divided, O’Toole blamed the Prime Minister for stoking the division by refusing to even speak to the Truckers.  He went on to say the Conservatives have always opposed mandates, and that no Canadian should be losing their livelihood over their health decisions.

Continue Reading

National

Crowd gathers north of Toronto to cheer on trucker convoy heading to Ottawa

Published on

TORONTO — A large crowd gathered outside a mall north of Toronto on Thursday as a group of local truckers prepared to join a convoy to Ottawa in protest of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border drivers.

Some in the crowd threw cash and food up to truckers in their vehicles at the Vaughan Mills mall while others hoisted Canadian flags and signs protesting the government as the truckers gradually rolled out.

Mike Fabinski, a truck driver from Barrie, Ont., said the vaccine mandate means he won’t be able to work cross-border routes any more.

“You want to be vaccinated, go ahead, your choice. I don’t want to be vaccinated, that’s my choice,” he said.

Fabinski said he’s been a truck driver for 20 years but has not been able to travel to the U.S. since the federal mandate came to effect on Jan 15.

“I was going non-stop until they started last Saturday,” he said. “Now I cannot go. I cannot work no more.”

The federal government ended truckers’ exemption to the vaccine mandate two weeks ago meaning Canadian truck drivers need to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine when they cross into Canada from the U.S.

Some with extreme, far-right views have latched onto the protest against the mandate. One online video includes a man expressing hope the rally will turn into the Canadian equivalent of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

On Thursday, some in the crowd that came out to support the truckers said they planned to join the convoy and make the trek to Ottawa as well.

Dean Brown said he supported peaceful protest intended by the convoy and rejected suggestions that it could lead to violence.

“The people who are in charge of this (convoy) are blocking people who are insisting or suggesting violence,” the 57-year-old Toronto man said.

“It’s all about peace. It’s all about freedom. It’s all about getting the Canadian way of life back. We are not here to turn it to violence.”

Ontario Provincial Police were urging drivers to be patient as several groups of truckers planned to drive across the province to Ottawa before a so-called “freedom rally” on Parliament Hill planned for Saturday.

Police spokesman Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said drivers should prepare for delays on Toronto-area highways, including Highway 401, Highway 400 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.

Police in Ottawa have said they are planning for as many as 2,000 demonstrators, and while protest leaders have been co-operative, there are concerns that far-right extremist groups that have attached themselves to the convoy could spark violence.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which has denounced the convoy protest, estimates that roughly 15 per cent of truckers — up to 16,000 — are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2022.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending

X