A Halifax landlord who attempted to renovict his tenant is taking the case to small claims court.

Marcus Ranjbar tried to get Stacey Gomez to agree to the renoviction in the spring, but she refused to end her tenancy, despite the landlord’s increasingly aggressive tactics.

As the Halifax Examiner reported last month, Ranjbar took the case to a residential tenancies hearing to try to get Gomez evicted so he could renovate. In a decision released September 12, Gomez won. Residential tenancies officer Kim Sinclair rejected Ranjbar’s application to evict Gomez, and ordered the landlord to pay her $837.91 for compensation and expenses relating to the loss of “some enjoyment of her unit.”

A woman wearing a red shirt, denim jacket and a necklace stands in front of a building under construction. It's raining.
Stacey Gomez stands outside her apartment following her residential tenancies hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Ranjbar appealed the finding four days later, on September 16. In the filing on behalf of Ranjbar’s company, 4364812 Nova Scotia Ltd., lawyer John Boyle provided the following reasons:

  1. The Residential Tenancy Officer erred in fact and in law when dismissing the Appellant’s application to terminate the tenancy in order to complete of demolition or making repairs or renovations to the residential premises;
  2. The Appellant requires a trial de novo and intends to submit fresh evidence in relation to its application to terminate the tenancy in order to complete of demolition or making repairs or renovations to the residential premises; and
  3. Such further or other errors which the Appellant may find to exist.

The court scheduled a pre-hearing for October 11, but Gomez has since hired a lawyer, Mitch Broughton, and he’s not available for that date.

Both parties have agreed to forego the pre-hearing and head straight to the main hearing, according to Gomez. But Broughton is also arguing for an in-person hearing, rather than a virtual one.

“Ms. Gomez is of the position that a virtual hearing of this matter is an undue infringement on the open court principle,” Broughton wrote in a letter to the court dated October 7.

Broughton argued this will be the first test for the provincial government’s amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act around renovictions, which tightened rules around how a landlord can legally evict a tenant to complete renovations. Broughton argued the public needs access.

“A virtual hearing is an overly restrictive barrier to the accessibility of these proceedings to the public and the media. While these restrictive measures were put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they should not persist in perpetuity at the expense of a foundational principle of our democratic society,” Broughton wrote.

“Ms. Gomez’s matter, in particular, should be accessible to the public and the media, as it will show how the Small Claims Court interprets the recent change to the law surrounding renovictions.”

If you’re facing a renoviction and need legal assistance, please visit our PRICED OUT resource page for organizations in your community.

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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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