Halifax seniors' residence ordered to reimburse tenant for COVID restrictions

·2 min read
Melville Height imposed has imposed two lockdowns, according to a small claims case. (Google Streetview - image credit)
Melville Height imposed has imposed two lockdowns, according to a small claims case. (Google Streetview - image credit)

A Halifax seniors' residence has been ordered to reimburse one of its tenants for the severe restrictions it imposed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a decision released Tuesday, a Nova Scotia small claims adjudicator ruled that Melville Heights exceeded its authority because it is not a nursing home and or a residential care facility, so it is not covered by the Health Protection Act.

Adjudicator Gus Richardson ordered Melville Heights to reimburse the tenant, Emma Parnell, $2,083.

Melville Heights imposed two lockdowns, along with other restrictions. One lockdown was for 11 weeks between March 30 and June 17, 2020, and the second was for four weeks between April 22 and May 21 of this year.

During the lockdowns, visitors were banned from the facility and outings with family or friends were "strongly discouraged."

At the start of the first lockdown, Melville Heights told residents they would no longer be allowed to go outside because some families had been visiting on the lawn without observing the proper social distancing.

Two weeks into the first lockdown, residents were told they'd be allowed out on a deck at the facility for up to 20 minutes at a time, but only five people could go out at once.

Protecting residents

When Dianne Dubowski inquired about the restrictions on behalf of her mother, Parnell, who was a resident, she was told she could take her mother out of the facility, but she wouldn't be allowed back in until after the lockdown and after she obtained a negative COVID test.

Lawyers for the facility tried to argue in court that the restrictions were reasonable to protect the residents, who range in age from 74 to 105.

Nursing homes and residential care facilities have been subject to orders under the Health Protection Act during the pandemic.

But Melville Heights is not one of the those facilities and is instead covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. Richardson ruled the restrictions exceeded what is permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act.

Dubowski had asked for a rent rebate of more than $7,600. The adjudicator ruled that was excessive and instead ordered the $2,083 reimbursement.

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