Wendy, who has lived at the Seafield for 31 years, has always paid her rent on time. She gives her rent cheques to the management – as per their request- three at a time in an envelope.
Putting November, December and January’s cheques together, she slid them under the management office door with other Seafielders as witnesses on October 3, 2008. Since her November and December cheques cleared, it was quite a surprise for her to find that her January rent hadn’t been taken out of her account by January 9.
On Friday that day, Gordon Nelson Investments’ building manager for the Seafield left Wendy a note on her door telling her to pay up by end of day and to include a $50 late fee. (The RTA allows for a maximum late fee of $25.)
On Saturday Wendy sent a registered letter to Gordon Nelson Investments explaining how she knows she had paid January’s rent — she has carbon copies of the three cheques she had written and submitted at the same time. On Monday she provided a duplicate copy of this letter when the building manager came knocking. All Wendy asked for in the registered letter was for them to look harder before she went to the trouble and expense of putting a stop-order on her original January cheque before writing a replacement cheque.
At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, Chris Nelson of Gordon Nelson Investments paid a visit to the Seafield. His response to her reasonable letter was to issue her an eviction notice: five days to pay, or she would have to vacate by January 26.
Wendy met with the building’s manager yesterday morning (Wednesday) to issue Gordon Nelson a new cheque, which should render the eviction notice moot. But she will have to eat the cost of the registered mail—unless she wants to take them to the RTO to reclaim that cost. Choosing not to do this at this point, she has decided to risk not taking on the additional expense of putting a stop-order on the original January cheque, as that would be another cost for her to absorb.
The trend here is unsettling. Gordon Nelson Investments has lost or misplaced rent cheques in at least four cases in their six months of ownership of the Seafield.
On August 6, former building manager Ivan Djanic, asked Melissa Mewdell to call him regarding her rent. She hadn’t paid, he contested, even though she had handed her cheque directly to him in front of other residents five days prior. While on the phone with Melissa over the issue, Ivan asked her if she would move out of the Seafield and into another building, which the company owns, for a rent of $50 less than the cost of her apartment in the Seafield.
“You know, to avoid the renovations,” he said. She declined the “generous” offer.
Mark and Christine’s rent disappeared in September too — but only temporarily. Gordon Nelson found it two weeks later.
Wendy has been the victim of this more than once. Her November 2008 rent cheque was lost by Gordon Nelson Investments. After Ivan came asking for the money, he agreed to go looking again for that rent cheque.
Wendy heard nothing for several days. She emailed Chris Nelson three times and received no response. On November 6, 2008, her cheque cleared.
Ooops. Wasn’t lost after all!
How might this situation have been resolved with less stress and expense for all concerned?
Admission by GNI of their mistake would have solved the issue right away.
Or, GNI could have contacted Wendy directly by phone or in person and politely explain the situation. That it appeared that, like her November cheque, her January cheque had, unfortunately, been misplaced again; that they had spent a good deal of time searching for it, with no luck; and could she please rewrite another one?
Seafielders are reasonable people. Common courtesy and an honest admission of their mistake would have solved the issue right away.
Instead, a great deal of time, energy and emotion was spent on what could have been handled easily, simply and respectfully.
Now there is the distinct possibility that Wendy, who has always paid her rent on time, will have to spend considerably more time and energy ensuring that her credit rating hasn’t declined because of this unnecessarily heavy-handed incident.