Confusion, anxiety and anger were on display as tenants of a Langford high rise digested the termination of their rental agreements.
Tenants were informed by email that an independent engineer hired by the landlord, Centurion Property Associates, had found serious safety concerns and had recommended tenants evacuate immediately.
“This is unreal,” said Victoria Simms, 35, who moved into the building last June. “There is a sense of panic around here and the building manager is nowhere to be found. There is a 1-800 number they gave out, but they refer us back to the building manager, who isn’t picking up [her phone]. It’s so frustrating that they did this by email. It has certainly left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.”
She considered herself one of the luckier ones, as she has found a friend who can put her up temporarily.
Dennis MacDonald was pacing the front of the building voicing his displeasure while waiting for his daughter to return home.
“How can this happen? How could someone miss it? It’s immoral that they would tell us that everything was fine and dandy — until 25 minutes ago?” said MacDonald. “They just gave us a list of hotels that we could go to, at our cost. They said: ‘Don’t worry, your homeowner’s insurance should cover it.’ I don’t believe my insurance will cover it.”
He was told to pack as much as possible and vacate immediately. Tenants could return to retrieve what they left behind at a later date but were warned that they do so at their own risk.
A steady stream of tenants arrived home at around 5 p.m. after receiving their notices at work. They were met by some of their neighbours moving out mattresses, dog crates, documents, clothes in garbage bags and other household items . A moving truck was already in the driveway.
While some stopped to talk, others voiced their displeasure in four-letter words before storming off. “I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. I am so mad!” said a tenant, who did not want to be identified.
Justin Bergh, 35, was downstairs with two of his children while his wife with his remaining child was upstairs packing and figuring out where they and their two dogs could go on such short notice.
“My wife is stressed and flustered,” said Bergh, who moved into the building almost a year ago. “It’s scary and unnerving to think that we have been living in a building with such serious structural defects for the last 12 months.”
The landlord has suggested that tenants will be offered $1,000 as compensation for their inconvenience.
“I called the building manager, and she suggested I call the 1-800 number. The person at the end of the line suggested I call the building manager. Nobody wants to provide us with any answers. What are we supposed to do? Why is it our responsibility [to find accommodation] now,” said Ashley MacDonald, 44, who had a small dog with her.
>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org