Calgary senior has warning for others after damage deposit dispute

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WATCH: A Calgary senior is warning other Albertans to be aware of their rights as renters after she had to fight to get her damage deposit back. Tomasia DaSilva explains what your rights are, and how Global News helped this senior get her money back – Jan 9, 2019

Calgary senior Joanne Ward was surprised when she learned she wasn’t going to get her damage or security deposit back after moving out of her old apartment in November 2018.

The 85-year-old said there was no damage to the unit and she gave the property management company, Diversified Management, plenty of notice.

Ward said she was initially told it wouldn’t be a problem when the unit was checked over by the property manager.

“I said to him, ‘Now, before I sign this, I want to know if I’m going to get my security deposit back?’ He said, ‘Why wouldn’t you?'”

She was told later it was because she broke her lease.

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Ward agreed that she had, but added she also followed the rules laid out by the provincial government when it comes to damage and security deposits.

READ MORE: Calgary homeowners on the hook for damages after tenant allegedly skips out

The Residential Tenancies Act states as long as no damage is done, beyond normal wear and tear, tenants have a right to their full deposit plus any interest owing within 10 days. The premises also have to be properly cleaned and no rent or other amounts can be owing to the landlord.

The Calgary Residential Rental Association has seen a lot of disputes over the years about damage deposits and leases being broken.

Executive director Gerry Baxter said tenants have the responsibility to ensure they honour contracts signed, however, he said landlords also have to be flexible.

“Sometimes something happens in a tenant’s life and they have to leave,” Baxter said.

“But the tenant would be on the hook and be responsible for paying the rent until the landlord finds a new suitable tenant.”

Baxter said the landlord has a responsibility to move quickly to find a new renter, but depending on the rental market and economic conditions, that can take time.

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Ward said she allowed the landlord easy access to her apartment so that a new renter could be found as soon as possible. Her unit was rented days before she moved out.

Global News contacted Diversified Management to ask why Ward wasn’t getting her money.

A spokesperson said it was a misunderstanding, largely to do with an issue involving the condo board, saying that a cheque for the full amount of the damage deposit was on its way to Ward.

The retired nurse couldn’t be happier to get her money.

“The security deposit is $1,050,” she said, “which, to me, is two months old age pension.”

If tenants dispute any deductions being made from the security deposit, they may take the landlord to Provincial Court Civil Division or to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to pursue getting the security deposit back.

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