Yellowknife renter frustrated by landlord's slow response to problem tenants
'I am a good tenant,' says Donna Baskin. 'I should not be the one who has to move'
After 80 complaint calls over 10 months a Yellowknife renter is calling on her landlord to crack down on problem tenants, faster.
"I have cleaned human feces off the carpet. Vomit in the stairwell, people partying in the laundry room," said Donna Baskin who took over a two-bedroom, 600 square foot sublet in the Norseman Manor last September. She pays $1,600 a month in rent.
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Ten months after making the first complaint, Baskin says a manager finally offered to help relocate her to another building. She's considering that option, but it's not her preference.
"I am a good tenant. I should not be the one who has to move."
Not much of a response
Norseman Manor is managed by Northview Apartment REIT. According to the company's website it's responsible for 24,000 residential suites across the country — many in the North.
Baskin says most of her neighbours, including elders and people with young children, are friendly and respectful.
The few who are not, and their guests, are making living in the Norseman Manor unbearable.
Baskin claims to have made 80 calls about different disturbances to Northview Apartment's emergency-line, leaving complaints with a live representative.
"There actually wasn't much of a response," said Baskin who says not once did she get a followup call or visit.
The disturbances include being urinated on in the stairwell, seeing people passed out in the hallways and laundry room and being harassed for money by people in the hallways.
"I find myself patrolling the halls at night because people are leaving rocks jamming the fire doors open letting people in."
Then there is the violence.
"You hear bodies hitting walls, piercing screams and drunken swearing fights and you hear it at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at night," said Baskin who has also made several reports to the RCMP.
"I'm not asking for amenities that aren't included in my rent like a dishwasher or air conditioning. I'm talking about a livable safe environment."
Northview Apartment REIT declined an interview with CBC. In an e-mail, the company said all calls to the emergency line are recorded and investigated.
The company says a third party security service makes five patrols of the Norseman Manor each night.
Baskin maintains she rarely sees security in the building.
There's currently no in-house caretaker, though the company says in June it hired a caretaker in a neighbouring building to respond to issues at the Norseman Manor.
Baskin said the caretaker did respond quickly after a group of intoxicated people set off a fire extinguisher last month, but the cleanup took days.
What the law says
Landlords are required by law to have secure locks on the doors.
According to the N.W.T's Residential Tenancies Act, "a tenant shall not disturb the landlord's or other tenants' possession or enjoyment of the rental premises or residential complex."
Unlike health and structural safety issues, like mould — which requires a response within 10 days — there's no defined timeline for landlords to respond to calls about disturbances.
"There is just an obligation that the landlord investigate any complaints they receive including, if necessary, making an application to a rental officer," said Adelle Guigon, who investigates disputes between landlords and tenants as the N.W.T.'s rental officer.
"The main challenges [for landlords] is identifying the source of the disturbance," said Guigon. "If the landlord is able to identify the source of the disturbances, then the landlord has more to work with."
If tenants feel a landlord is taking too long to respond to a disturbance complaint, Guigon said they can file a complaint with her office.
The filing fee is $20 dollars, and is free to people in subsidized housing or those terminating a tenancy due to domestic violence.
The process takes, on average, two and a half months from the date the complaint is filed until there is a hearing.
Guigon said she could force a landlord to compensate the tenant financially if their obligations have been breached.
Baskin says only after meeting with a manager in person in June did she feel her concerns were heard.
The manager promised they would hire a new security company to patrol the building 24/7 for a trial period, and offered to relocate her to another building — at her own expense.
"That would solve my situation but do nothing for the other residents in the building.
"The issue is not just for me but our building as a community."