Following months of hearings, the Landlord and Tenant Board has determined that Schembri Property Management, the company behind the construction of Columbia One building, will have to pay settlement fees to a former tenant, Tyler McFall.
<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.38; background-color: transparent;">The board ruled that UW student McFall should receive a total of $1928.86 from Schembri as compensation for the distress he faced as a result of delays in the construction of Columbia One. </span></p>
According to Alex Diceanu, the outreach and resource centre co-ordinator at WPIRG, it is possible that McFall may not receive his payment immediately as Schembri may choose to appeal the ruling. Since the board only has limited authority in enforcing their rulings, McFall’s next best option would be to go to the small claims court and enforce payment.
“The Board can levy fines to pressure the landlord to pay. You basically rely on the landlord agreeing to pay on the ruling or you have to go to small claims court and have the ruling enforced there,” Diceanu said.
Last September, the student tenants of One Columbia were notified that their apartments were still under construction and that the building, at the time, was not fit for residents. Since then, over 60 students, like McFall, have pursued legal action as Schembri refused to excuse them from their leases. 53 of those students were supported by WPIRG, and five of those cases are currently before the Landlord and Tenant Board on May 28.
The processing of some of these cases have been delayed since the legal representative for Schembri’s Property Management, Terri van Huisstede, has asked to temporarily adjourn hearings after experiencing a concussion. These hearings centred around only four cases.
Van Huisstede’s website has published a notice saying that their practice is “no longer accepting clients and will no longer be operating effective June 1, 2015.” The repercussions of this delay have yet to be determined as Schembri may seek new legal representation.
Joseph Richards, the legal representative from Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, has been assisting the students supported by WPIRG and had little to say regarding the developments in McFall’s case or van Huisstede’s recent accident, as the case is still in progress.
Another hearing has been planned for May 28. Make sure to pick up Imprint’s June 3 issue for updates on this developing story.