Stacey Gomez and Marcus Ranjbar will be back before a residential tenancies officer in January.
The tenant and landlord have been in a months-long dispute over a south end Halifax apartment. Ranjbar attempted to evict Gomez to complete renovations on the property, but Gomez refused to leave.
After a hearing in September, residential tenancies officer Kim Sinclair rejected Ranjbar’s application to evict Gomez. Ranjbar appealed that decision to small claims court. But before that hearing went ahead, Halifax Regional Municipality condemned the apartment due to mould. The municipality ordered Gomez to leave.
As the Halifax Examiner reported in October, Ranjbar served Gomez notice to quit based on HRM’s order to vacate. He argued that the order ended Gomez’s tenancy, and he moved her belongings out of the apartment and into storage.
In November, Gomez and her lawyer filed an application to set aside Ranjbar’s notice to quit. Gomez said there’s a new hearing scheduled for Jan. 11, 2023.
Tenant wants fines against landlord
Gomez is asking the residential tenancies officer to award her costs including moving expenses, the difference between whatever rent she’ll pay in the meantime and her rent in Ranjbar’s unit, and the return of the rent she paid in September and October.
She also wants the residential tenancies officer to fine Ranjbar $1,000 for illegally evicting her and another $1,000 for breaching the Residential Tenancies Act sections on renoviction.
“I think that it’s important to send a message to landlords that they can’t just do whatever they want, that there are rules to follow,” Gomez said in an interview with the Examiner.
Gomez said this would be the first time those fines have been used.
Her life is still in “limbo,” Gomez said, as she doesn’t know when repairs will be complete at her apartment. She spent two weeks in a provincially-funded hotel after HRM’s order to vacate, and then most of the rest of the time at another person’s home.
Gomez said she’s found a new place from January to April, but her belongings are still in storage. She said some of them are damaged from the move, but she’s been unable to determine to what extent.
She also noted a recent post in a Facebook group for landlords, calling her a “troublesome tenant” and giving other landlords a “major heads up.”
Landlord says Facebook post unnecessary
Ranjbar said in an interview he didn’t know anything about the Facebook post.
“I don’t think a post needs to be made in order for people to know what happened there,” Ranjbar said. “She’s all over Google.”
Ranjbar maintains that Gomez’s tenancy ended when HRM issued its order to vacate, and believes he’ll be successful at this new hearing.
The apartment is still gutted, Ranjbar said, as he waits for contractors to treat the mould. The renovation won’t be complete for months, he said.
While the new residential tenancies process is underway, Gomez said lawyers for both sides agreed to pause their small claims court proceeding. It’s likely, whatever the outcome of the residential tenancies process, that there’ll be another appeal to small claims court.