A Halifax woman celebrated a victory today after the Residential Tenancy Board rejected her landlord’s application to have her renovicted from her apartment.
Stacey Gomez has lived in an apartment on Church Street since December 2017. Her landlord, Marcus Ranjbar, purchased the property at the end of 2021 and started the process to have tenants, including Gomez, renovicted. Gomez said she didn’t think the work that needed to be done was enough to require her to vacate her unit.
Zane Woodford reported on the hearing at the tenancy board that took place on September 1:
Ranjbar made his case to have Gomez evicted, while Gomez brought her own counter case, arguing she should be allowed to stay and Ranjbar should have to pay her for not keeping the apartment up to standards.
Ranjbar’s lawyer, John Boyle, said his client was willing to pay Gomez six months rent, moving costs, and return her damage deposit, which he said would be done anyway.
Gomez said she’s not willing to end her tenancy, but would agree to leave the unit while repairs are completed, and then move back in.
“I wish to retain my tenancy,” Gomez said.
Sinclair asked why the landlord couldn’t spend the same amount he was willing to give the tenant to move out, about $6,000, to house her for the duration of the renovations.
Boyle argued there’s too much uncertainty in the renovation timeline for that option, saying it would take “several months.”
Stacey Gomez held a news conference Monday afternoon where she spoke to reporters about the decision, which she received today. The decision also ordered the landlord to pay Gomez $837.91 for compensation/expenses relating to the loss of “some enjoyment of her unit.”
According to the decision, the board rejected Ranjbar’s application to renovict because there wasn’t enough evidence regarding the prescence of mold in the apartment. The board awarded Gomez compensation because the landlord didn’t give her notice about the removal of her patio and for the landlord’s failure to investigate and fix issues with the toilet and plumbing in the unit.
Gomez said she was relieved and the decision feels like a victory for tenant rights in Nova Scotia.
“There are so many people who are in similar situations like myself, and who maybe don’t know what their rights are and don’t feel confident to challenge when a landlord is trying to get them renovicted,” she said. “I think this is pretty huge in terms of tenant rights in the province. And it’s a relief because I have felt all along that what he’s doing is not right, he’s not following the rules, and just that his case was not very strong. To have that upheld by residential tenancy does feel good.”
Gomez said although she’s in regular contact with Ranjbar, she hasn’t heard from him since the decision was released today. She added she’s concerned about his response to the decision. As the Examiner reported, Gomez said she received threatening and abusive texts messages from a phone number she didn’t recognize after she posted a video about her situation to YouTube.
“I am still going to continue to be on high alert for what happens next,” she said. “I don’t know how he will react to the news today.”
At the end of August, the HRM building official Shawn Kennedy issued a stop work order and Ranjbar was given a few deadlines to complete various work projects. Gomez said some of that work has been done, but she hasn’t received notice about other projects whose deadlines are approaching.
At Monday’s conference, Gomez was joined by a couple of supporters who held signs calling for tenant rights. Gomez said she’s felt supported by the community throughout the process.
“Even just walking down the street the other day, someone was like, ‘you, go girl,” for standing up for my rights,” Gomez said. Just hearing from neighbors and others who are watching the case. People are happy to hear this news today.”
Gomez said she’d like to see more support and rights for tenants in Nova Scotia. For example, she said other provinces have a legal fund tenants can access to get legal advice to challenge a renovictions. And she reminded tenants never to sign any documents until they get legal advice.
“There are clinics that provide legal information in the province and I definitely encourage people to reach out,” Gomez said. “I have heard from tenants who don’t know what their rights are and did sign one of the forms. You can sign away your rights without knowing it. I encourage people to be informed.”
Gomez said she’d also like to see landlord licencing in Nova Scotia.
“If a landlord is behaving poorly and abusively against a tenant and not doing repairs they are required to do, they shouldn’t be allowed to be landlords,” Gomez said.
“I think this message sends a strong message to landlords that they can’t do whatever they want to do and the residential tenancy board can rule in favour of the tenant. I think that’s an important step in the province.”
If you’re facing a renoviction and need legal assistance, please visit our PRICED OUT resource page for organizations in your community.