Deborah Grandy has been a tenant of Parkland Investments for 14 years, but all that could change with an eviction hearing scheduled for March 13 due to bed bugs.
She has been living at 51 Parkland Dr. in Clayton Park for the past eight years. Grandy said she discovered the bugs in early January and doesn’t know how they got into her first floor, one-bedroom apartment.
“The very next day I called the superintendent and told them we had bed bugs,” Grandy said. “They were not happy; they didn’t say anything, but they were not happy.”
Grandy said she received instructions in the form of notes under her door to do things like scrub the floor and throw her furniture off of the balcony. She complied with their requests.
It came as a shock to Grandy when she was hit with three bills amounting to $3,636.29 to pay pest control for not only her apartment, but others in the building that Parkland said were also infested.
Grandy told Parkland Investments that she would be unable to pay for the services because she couldn’t afford it. She said she was told the matter would be brought to court by Parkland if she didn’t pay.
The stress of the situation became so intense for Grandy that she was admitted to hospital and was treated for several weeks for extreme stress and anxiety stemming from the bed bug situation.
“I reached my limit; I couldn’t go any further,” she said. “I was complying with everything they said. I was doing everything they wanted me to do, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Since returning from the hospital, Grandy has been staying in her sister Susan Hogg’s apartment in the same building on the first floor.
Grandy’s family and friends said she has been nothing but a model tenant over the past 14 years. She has never missed a rent payment rent or caused a disturbance and has spent about $180,000 in rent during her time with the company.
Parkland Investments is not commenting on the matter.
“Out of respect for the nature of the dispute and the privacy of those involved, including that of our tenant, we feel it neither appropriate or necessary to make any detailed statement at this time,” the company said in an email to The Signal on Feb. 23.
“However, we would like to make clear that in no way have we taken this situation lightly, and our course of action has only come after careful consideration of a number of factors; the most important of which has been the care and comfort of our tenants.”
In Nova Scotia, landlords are responsible for the removal of pests like bed bugs and are also responsible for their prevention.
Parkland Investments is using section 9.1.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act for grounds for Grandy’s eviction. It states, “Condition of Premises – The landlord shall keep the premises in a good state of repair and fit for habitation during the tenancy and shall comply with any statutory enactment or law respecting standards of health, safety or housing.”
However, Dalhousie Legal Aid says that this section of the act is for landlords and cannot be grounds for eviction.
Billy Sparks, a staff lawyer at Dal Legal Aid in Halifax, said that in almost all circumstances a landlord is responsible for dealing with any pests in apartments.
“So if it’s mice, rats or bed bugs the landlord is responsible for remedying the situation and the cost of remedying it,” he said.
Sparks explained that it would be extremely rare for a landlord to be able to give the bill for dealing with a situation like bed bugs to a tenant.
“It would be very limited what a tenant would be responsible for during any pest infestation,” said Sparks. “The landlord would have to prove that they have done something above the ordinary that has caused the condition, such as a hoarding situation.”
Sparks said Dal Legal Aid gets at least one call a day about pest infestations. Since it’s the landlord’s responsibility to deal with pets in apartments tenants should never be embarrassed to tell their landlords they have things like bed bugs, he added. Keeping it a secret will only make matters worse in the long run.
Since speaking with Grandy initially in late February, The Signal has learned that Grandy’s rent is being increased by the amount of $500 a month effective July 1 — if she is still living in the same apartment. Parkland Investments could not be reached for comment regarding this matter.
Grandy said she does not have a plan going into the eviction hearing, but wishes to leave her apartment on her own terms.