Tenants at an apartment building in Sackville say they can’t understand why it’s taking the town so long to respond to their health and safety concerns.
Warktimes has spoken to tenants at 26 Queen’s Road who say they’ve complained to the town’s bylaw officer about a wide range of issues including leaking pipes, defective plumbing, mould in bedroom and bathroom walls, faulty electrical wiring, inadequate lighting and sagging ceilings.
They say that as far they know, bylaw officer Corey Springer has not yet conducted a thorough inspection of the building.
Springer has confirmed that he did receive a complaint and his file on the building is open, but says he can’t say anything more because of the need to protect tenants’ privacy and for legal reasons.
“When files have the potential to proceed before the courts, we are not in a position to speak about them publicly,” Springer wrote in an e-mail to Warktimes.
He would not say whether anyone from the town has inspected the building to look into the tenants’ complaints.
Claude Haché, a provincial fire inspector visited the building and the neighbouring one at 28 Queen’s Road on August 4th in response to a number of complaints including fire code violations, inadequate alarms, faulty electrical wiring and a lack of smoke detectors.
Haché told Warktimes he would submit his report to the landlord’s agents who would have 30 days to fix any problems he might have found, but would not say anything more.
He did respond to a telephone message today.
Meantime, the tenants have consulted Hicks LeMoine lawyer James Goodwin who has also pressed the town to enforce its residential properties maintenance and occupancy standards bylaw.
“The tenants don’t believe they’re currently living in a safe situation and are looking for some sort of authority to step in and fix this,” he says.
“Everyone’s entitled to a safe and clean home,” Goodwin adds.
The eight-unit building at 26 Queens Road and the neighbouring 12-unit one at #28 were owned by Barbara and Gordon Beal until July 5th when the Beals sold them for $2.1 million to a St. Catharines, Ontario company called R and R Real Estate Holdings Ltd.
Gordon Beal, who was 87, died on August 19th.
R and R Real Estate Holdings hired a company named Star Professional Property Management in Moncton to oversee the buildings and collect the rents.
According to tenants, the management firm told them to submit their rent via e-mail transfers and when some failed to do so either because they didn’t own computers or were unfamiliar with online banking, the company posted several eviction notices on apartment doors.
Although the issue was finally resolved, New Brunswick’s Residential Tenancies Tribunal has upheld the eviction of one of the most outspoken tenants who must leave the apartment on October 31st.
All of the tenants who spoke to Warktimes requested anonymity.
They say that although the management company has taken steps to resolve some mould issues, many health and safety concerns remain.
A representative from Star Professional Property Management responded to a phone message from Warktimes by saying the company was working to rectify any problems and that tenants should take their complaints to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal and not to the news media.
Chelsea, who refused to give her full name, said lawyers for the company would respond if the news media report incorrect information.
She also said that for privacy reasons, she could not discuss why a tenant was being evicted from 26 Queens Road.
Meanwhile, lawyer James Goodwin says this is the second such case he’s been involved in this year.
The other was at a Beal-owned property on Main Street where tenants were re-housed after a judge ruled that their apartments weren’t safe to live in.
In that case, the town took an active role, but Goodwin says that hasn’t always been the case.
He also said the Residential Tenancies Tribunal has a very narrow scope and limited powers.
“There appears to have been very little enforcement in the last few decades in this town,” he says.
“The town has a large population of renters,” he adds.
“This has made a very lucrative market for landlords, but unfortunately without inspections taking place and without tenants knowing their rights, nothing’s happening.”