Seafielders Head to Arbitration for Fifth Time in Under Two Years

Removing Storage and Parking is Latest in Gordon Nelson Investments Saga

Parking spreadsheet graph a1 Seafielders Head to Arbitration for Fifth Time in Under Two Years

A sample from Seafielder's Evidence Demonstrating Parking Costs in the West End VS. Gordon Nelson's Proposed Compensation

Residents of the Seafield Apartments return to the Residential Tenancy Office on May 26th, 2010, to attend yet another hearing as a result of the actions of Gordon Nelson Investments (GNI).

On March 2, 2010, GNI issued a formal notice to remove storage lockers for all tenants and private parking for five tenants, all of which have been hitherto included in rents paid.

Reasons given by GNI were that the company requires the parking spaces behind the building to accommodate a storage bin, and the storage lockers (on the lower level) for storage of construction materials, both in anticipation of unspecified upcoming work to be performed.

Included in the notice were offers of compensation far below the cost that tenants would incur to replace these services ($5 per month rent reduction for storage and a $25 per month rent reduction for parking), nor was there any indication that the services would be returned at a given time.

In addition, the rental figures used to calculate such reductions incorrectly included a 3.7% rent increase for 9 of the 13 apartments, which the landlord had neither formally applied for nor received.

Prior to the formal process being initiated, Seafielders had requested more information
about GNI’s construction plans, and pointed out that several other options exist for storage of tools – such as space in the boiler room, the laundry room, the paint room, the electrical room and the management office. In addition, the empty suite is located at the front of the building, closest to the street, which would be the usual location for a disposal bin.

Since the formal notice was issued, Seafielders have spent the considerable time necessary to accumulate data to prove their case that the lockers and parking are terms of their tenancies, and that the compensation offered is woefully inadequate.

After previously failing to respond to the residents’ requests, at the 11th hour, Gordon Nelson Investments offered to negotiate in lieu of heading back to the RTO.

Seafielders’ responded:

“We respectfully point out that we wrote you on February 18, asking for more clarity as to your plans for renovations, particularly as to the scale and scope of the work.  Your reply of March 2 simply reiterated your original (and in our view, inadequate) offers, and stated that we would receive formal notice of the removal of the parking and storage services.

“You had over a month before we filed for a dispute resolution hearing on March 30 to try to resolve this.  Instead, you waited for a total of almost three months, until the final day of evidence exchange before our hearing, before making another offer.

“Given that we have already gone to a great deal of time and trouble to collect and submit our evidence in preparation for the hearing, we think it best that we proceed to attempt to resolve our dispute at the Residential Tenancy Branch, in front of a Dispute Resolution Officer.  Any agreement that we might reach there will be enforceable by the Residential Tenancy Office.  And, if we fail to reach an agreement, the DRO will decide based on the arguments and evidence to be presented.”

It’s important to note that any time a formal notice is issued by the landlord it is incumbent upon the tenant(s) to respond in order to defend themselves or to make their case. However, in the event of a reversal or failure to show on the landlord’s part, or in the event of using the RTO process for the purpose of harassment, no compensation is offered to the tenant whatsoever.

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2 Responses to “Seafielders Head to Arbitration for Fifth Time in Under Two Years”

  1. Derek Richer Says:

    What a puerile prank to pull. Having eliminated the washing machines before, lost rent cheques, and handed out various eviction notices, GNI has clearly faced declining options when it comes to harassing its tenants. Eliminating parking and storage lockers, in parallel with the unwarranted rent increases, suggests a distinct lack of shame and a mentality which is fuelled by a vindictive spirit. Tenants should not have to pay a price for asserting their rights in court.

    I find it deeply hypocritical that GNI, who like to spout dogma about the free market, have chosen blatantly to ignore market rates when providing compensation for the parking and storage services they are willfully denying the tenants.

    The overt abuse being heaped on the tenants will backfire on GNI in the long run. When the provincial government collapses in a haze of corruption, GNI had better pray they are not still in the apartment rental business. Public fury is mounting which will surely result in a comprehensive revamping of the Residential Tenancy Act. It is necessary that strict penalties be included in the RTA (in addition to closing loopholes) to curb the rampant abuse of tenants. A $50,000 fine would be a fine start to impose some discipline on wayward owners. Money seems to be the only motivation for some people in our sick society.

  2. John Says:

    Derek
    What you are doing is spouting off that GNI does not charge market rates for parking. Be real careful here that you don’t get what you are wishing for (increased parking fees)

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