Schembri ordered to pay back Waterloo tenant for 1 Columbia deposit

The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board has ordered Schembri Property Management to pay back a Waterloo student for her rental deposits by November 10. This comes as more students plan to take their case to the board later this month.

Company says it will appeal decision by the Landlord and Tenant Board

Schembri claims 99 per cent of the students who wanted to move in to 1 Columbia have already done so. (Nick Boisvert/CBC)

The Landlord and Tenant Board has ordered Schembri Property Management to reimburse one former tenant at its delayed 1 Columbia building $1,530.00 by the end of day on Monday.

Last week's ruling comes after a large number of students demanded their deposits back from the company after it revealed that its apartment building would not be ready for its advertised September move-in date.

Schembri now has been ordered to pay back Connor Ruest, who was represented in front of the board by her father Caesar Ruest. The board determined that Schembri collected or retained deposits "in a manner that contravened the Residential Tenancies Act," adding that the company "did not give vacant possession of the rental unit to the Tenant and is not entitled to retain the deposits."

The $1,530.00 reimbursement Schembri owes represents a rent deposit, key deposit, guarantor deposit and the cost of filing an application. If Schembri does not pay by Monday, the board says the company will owe interest on the outstanding balance.

However, Caesar Ruest says he's not optimistic he will be reimbursed by the company without further legal action.

"They have never been cooperative, they've never been forthcoming with information," said Ruest. "So the win was good, but it was spoiled because I know that Schembri's not going to pay it."

But Alex Diceanu, who is with the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, which has been helping a number of student tenants in this case, says the Ruest ruling by the board is still promising.

"That's one ruling in favour of a tenant that is pretty much in the identical situation as the students that are part of the group claim," said Diceanu.

Diceanu added the majority of students involved in this case will attend a hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board towards the end of November.

In an email to CBC News, Schembri said it would be appealing the Ruest decision as its paralegal was "unable to attend the prior hearing and it is not a final decision."

The company also claims 99 per cent of tenants who had wanted to move in to 1 Columbia have done so already, and that the building's construction is almost complete.