'Victory for tenant rights': Halifax woman reacts to renoviction decision

·3 min read
Stacey Gomez holds up the decision from the Residential Tenancy Office in front of her Church Street apartment in Halifax on Monday.  (Preston Mulligan/CBC - image credit)
Stacey Gomez holds up the decision from the Residential Tenancy Office in front of her Church Street apartment in Halifax on Monday. (Preston Mulligan/CBC - image credit)

A woman has won her months-long fight to stay in her Halifax apartment.

Stacey Gomez has lived in the same apartment since 2017. In March, she and the rest of the tenants in her seven-unit building received a letter from the landlord in March asking them to leave for renovations.

Gomez believed her landlord, Marcus Ranjbar, was trying to "renovict" her, so she didn't sign the form. Renoviction is a term for tenants being asked to leave while renovations take place on a unit which can then be rented for much higher rates.

The matter to the Residential Tenancy Office which released its decision on Monday.

The office rejected Ranjbar's request to terminate Gomez's tenancy and ordered the landlord to pay the tenant $837.91.

"It feels like a victory for tenant rights in Nova Scotia," Gomez told reporters outside her apartment.

"I think there's so many people who are in similar situations like myself who maybe don't know what their rights are, maybe don't feel confident to challenge when a landlord is trying to get them renovicted and so I think this is pretty huge." she said.

Marcus Ranjbar said in an email to CBC News that he is  "beyond frustrated" and will be appealing the decision.

David Laughlin/CBC
David Laughlin/CBC

After Gomez first spoke to CBC News about fighting her renovation, she says she felt threatened by increasing pressure from the landlord to leave the property.

She found a letter on her door that stated the landlord would not be responsible if Gomez dies or is injured at the property.

It's a relief to be able to stay in her apartment but Gomez says she still worries about her safety.

"Just with the track record in terms of what has happened so far does make me concerned, so I am still going to continue to be on high alert," she said.

Most of Gomez's counterclaim denied

After Gomez's landlord applied to have her tenancy terminated, she filed a counterclaim asking for almost $6,800 in compensation.

Most of her requests were rejected by the Residential Tenancy Office, including $3,672 for possible health risks from mould.

"I find it peculiar that Ms. Gomez seeks such a large sum of money for what she considers a minor problem not worth being evicted for," the decision by the residential tenancy officer said.

Other requests involved compensation for unsightly premises, not being able to use the backyard and changing locks without notice.

Gomez also asked for the landlord to bring back private garbage collection instead of the municipal collection, but was denied.

The residential tenancy officer said it didn't make a determination of whether Ranjbar threatened Gomez or committed any illegal activity throughout the process.

"I find no police reports were presented during the hearing or charges laid against anyone," the decision said. "I strongly caution any party who feels they are threatened to seek emergency services or legal counsel on how best proceed if criminal activity is suspected."