A resident of a White Rock apartment building says tenants received a “threatening” notice from their landlord after they worked together to request compensation for eight days spent without heat during the Christmas holidays.
However, Porte Realty vice-president Daniel Bar-Dayan told Peace Arch News the building-wide notice was quickly taken down because it was unnecessary and wasn’t approved by head office.
Heat and hot water stopped working at the Blackwood Village Apartments (1550 Blackwood St.) on Dec. 23 or 24. Resident Theo Pella said Monday tenants were in discussion with the Residential Tenancy Branch and believed that they could be compensated for the days they went without heat.
A letter and partially blank form – created by a tenant – outlining how to formally request compensation from Porte Realty began circulating in the building this month.
Shortly afterward, a notice was posted in the building Feb. 19 under the Porte Realty letterhead addressing the compensation form and letter that had been circulating to tenants.
The notice said Porte acted quickly to resolve the heating issue and offered to reimburse residents if they purchased a portable heater. The notice said all requests for additional compensation will be responded to individually.
“In addition, such actions of circulating letters will not be tolerated in our buildings as it is misleading and shakes the foundation of our community has been built on. Porte and the local authorities will be reviewing footage of the individual responsible for handing these letters out earlier this week, which will result in further repercussions,” the Porte notice read.
Pella took a photo of the notice, before it was replaced, and called PAN.
“I couldn’t believe it, to be honest with you. I didn’t believe that (the property manager) would write that. And that they would actually post that,” Pella said. “There’s 63 suites in this building, to threaten everybody and say you don’t have the right to do that. You don’t have the right to question us and we’re going to bring the law into this is just, you know, that’s ridiculous.”
The notice was replaced later that day with a new notice that made no mention of reviewing video or police involvement.
“I’m not going to make excuses, the letter was a little harsh,” Bar-Dayan said.
Bar-Dayan said the building manager wrote the sentence that caused the stir.
“I think it was a little bit of her probably feeling a little bit underappreciated for all the hard work and running around that she did. We don’t condone that, those lines. It was a little bit strong and we said ‘Hey, you know, that should come down,’” Bar-Dayan said.
However, Bar-Dayan did take issue with the compensation form and letter that was circulated in the building among tenants.
“What’s not right is that someone created what seems to be a letter that seems to be coming from the landlord when it did not. That was the purpose of us trying to clarify that it did not,” Bar-Dayan said.
“Someone in the building is being sneaky.”
Bar-Dayan said one of the tenants contacted Porte and indicated that they were under impression that the compensation letter was issued by the landlord.
“Misleading people to think it was actually us. Understanding that… probably isn’t legal but we’re not going to waste our time trying to pursue that. We’re very comfortable with our reaction,” Bar-Dayan said.
Pella showed PAN a copy of the letter and compensation form that was circulated to residents by residents. The letter didn’t explicitly say it was issued by Porte, nor was it under Porte letterhead or signed by a Porte representative.
“I really don’t think there’s a story here… It sounds like this person is maybe involved with creating this fake template that supposedly came from the landlord is maybe the person that’s trying to stir up trouble,” Bar-Dayan said.
Bar-Dayan said it took eight days to repair the heat because the boiler required a part to be air-freighted in, which was a challenge compounded by the fact that it happened during Christmas holidays.
He said he received two letters from tenants expressing gratitude for a job well done.
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