North

Northview REIT charging tenants thousands in illegal fees for pets in its buildings

One of the North's largest landlords has been charging its tenants thousands of dollars in illegal fees even after being told dozens of times to stop by the N.W.T’s rental officer. 

N.W.T rental office has reprimanded Northview for illegally collecting and not refunding pet fees

The Sunridge Place apartment building in Yellowknife is owned and managed by Northview Apartment REIT. The landlord has been charging tenants thousands of dollars in illegal fees (Kate Kyle/CBC)

One of the North's largest landlords has been charging its tenants thousands of dollars in illegal fees even after being told dozens of times to stop by the N.W.T's rental officer. 

CBC News has learned Northview Apartment REIT has been charging its tenants illegal "pet fees" for having pets in its pet-friendly buildings.

Several recent lease agreements between Northview and its tenants obtained by CBC News, show the company is charging each tenant an extra $25 per pet, per month, on top of rent. 

Under the Northwest Territories' Residential Tenancies Act, landlords can collect a pet deposit from tenants. It is similar to a damage deposit and must be refunded once the tenant moves out, as long as there isn't any major damage to the unit. Under the Act, landlords are allowed to charge a maximum of 50 per cent of one month's rent for a "pet deposit." 

It's like someone lying to you constantly- Ron Wolowich, Northview Tenant

But several rental officer decisions show Northview has not been refunding the pet fees it has been charging and some tenants have paid thousands of dollars more than what Northview is legally allowed to collect.

Ron Wolowich sits in his home with one of his dogs, Jewel. Ron and his wife have been paying $50 a month in pet fees to Northview for almost four years. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

Ron Wolowich, his wife and two dogs have rented a unit from Northview in Yellowknife for three years and 8 months. Each month, they've paid $50 in pet fees for a total of $2,800. 

"[Northview] is gouging me," Wolowich said. 

"It's like someone lying to you constantly. I will not pay it anymore. I will fight it tooth and nail. I want my money back. When you're in retirement, that $50 is a lot of money."

In the last two years, the N.W.T's rental office has reprimanded Northview in more than 19 of its decisions, for illegally collecting and not refunding those pet fees.  In each of those decisions, the rental office ordered the company to reimburse the respective tenant the fees they paid. 

"In my opinion, the monthly pet fees as described in the written tenancy agreement are contrary to the Act and therefore invalid." the N.W.T.'s chief rental officer, Adelle Guignon wrote in an August 2018 decision involving Northview and one of its tenants.

Guignon said that under the act, the rental officer can bring a landlord to court if they continue to repeatedly break the law. When asked if she plans to bring Northview to court, Guignon responded, "I'm not prepared to answer that question."

Wolowich says he plans to bring his case to the rental office.

CBC News contacted Northview several times for comment but has not yet heard back.

About the Author

Hilary Bird

Reporter

Hilary Bird is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She has been reporting on Indigenous issues and politics for almost a decade and has won several national and international awards for her work. Hilary can be reached at hilary.bird@cbc.ca

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