Apartment elevator gets temporary fix, but Halifax wheelchair user looking to move over fiasco

The only time Adam Denney was able to leave his apartment was last weekend with the help of his friends and a local fire department who carried him up and down the stairs. Submitted by Tracy Denney

A Halifax woman says she has no other choice but to look for a new place to live for her and her son over issues surrounding her apartment elevator.

“I really don’t want to move, but we have to and it’s just really frustrating, and it’s taken its toll on him for sure,” Tracy Denney said.

Denney told Global News in a story posted on March 11 that her son Adam hasn’t been able to leave his apartment for more than two weeks due to an out-of-order elevator.

As of Tuesday, it had been 20 days since the elevator at 16 Caxton Close broke down on Feb. 24.

Read more: Halifax wheelchair user ‘trapped’ in apartment due to 15-day-long elevator repair

Denney said on Tuesday that the day after Global News published their story, a notice posted on their door advised of repair plans and compensation.

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“Unfortunately, the elevator repair has turned out to be more complicated than originally thought,” the letter from Doric Management read.

“The work that was performed would not have allowed us to bring the elevator back into safe operation.”

A letter notice from Doric Management says elevator repair may take weeks. Submitted by Tracy Denney

Doric Management said it had engaged a second elevator repair company, Otis Elevator, in addition to CKG Elevator, which holds a contract with the company. The group added that it hopes the elevator will be repaired “in the coming weeks.”

“Despite this, we now know that the elevator is at the end of its lifespan,” the notice read, adding that the company will being seeking bids to replace the elevator.

“When this work begins the elevator could be out of service for at least 5-6 weeks,” it read.

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According to the notice, the company is offering compensation to second-, third- and fourth-floor tenants of the building: a $50 rent reduction.

At 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Doric Management said in an email to Global News that the elevator has been repaired.

In a separate email, the company said it will investigate replacement options for the future.

Read more: Waiting list ‘abyss’ in N.S. for care and housing of people with disabilities, doctor says

Tracy said that prior to being informed of the fix, she has not had any contact with the company since Global News published last week’s story. She said her son was not offered any solution or alternative accommodation to date.

“We’ve been long-time tenants, we’ve paid over $200,000 in rent here, I would hope that maybe they would make some kind of arrangement or accommodations for us,” she said.

At the time of the interview, there was no repair timeline in sight. Even now, Adam Denney says he could not withstand a five-to-six-week replacement once it begins.

Adam says there’s no other choice but to move. “It’s been home for 16 years, but I’m ready to move because, like mom alluded to, I’m sick of being trapped in here,” he said.

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“It’s taking a toll on me mentally, emotionally.”

His mother said Tuesday afternoon that even with the repair, the family has to move because this has happened in previous years too.

“We’re just at a dead end, we have to move and that’s just what it is. It’s unfortunate,” Tracy said.

After being stuck in his apartment for more than two weeks at the time, Adam was able to go outside and see his friends last weekend, with the help of a friend working in a fire department.

His friends carried him downstairs Saturday night, and a group of firemen brought him back to the apartment on Monday morning.

Submitted by Tracy Denney
Submitted by Tracy Denney

“It was just a sigh of relief because like I said, being trapped, not only stuck, but being trapped in the apartment for a better part of two weeks, I was going crazy,” Adam said.

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“I don’t find it’s fair at all.”

Tracy said the tenancy board, the N.S. Residential Tenancies Program, has moved up their hearing date.

“They say it’s an emergency hearing,” she said. “(The board) told me to make up a proposal as to what I would like and see if they agree to it.”

Tracy and Adam were initially scheduled to attend a Residential Tenancy hearing by phone on April 7, but that was now moved to March 23.

Tracy said she’s sad because the family has lived in the apartment for more than half of Adam’s life.

“I’ve paid them almost $200,000 in rent and I had to take them to the tenancy board to try and hear a solution,” she said.

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The main request Tracy will be making through the tenancy board is alternative housing for her and Adam.

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In addition to the notice by Doric Management, she found a notice posted by Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency.

The Order to Remedy, dated March 12 and addressed to the company, stated the property does not comply with minimum standards prescribed by municipal bylaw M-200 Respecting
Residential Occupancies, “in that deficiencies were found.”

The bylaw, under Section 20 in reference to elevating devices, states:

“Elevators and other elevating devices, including all mechanical and electrical equipment, lighting fixtures, lamps, control buttons, floor indicators, ventilation fans, and emergency communication systems shall be operational and hold a current provincial license to operate.”

The company was ordered to “remedy the condition of the property,” with another inspection scheduled for March 26. But, that may change soon.

“The violation is that the elevator has to be operational and in this case, the elevator is not, so we ordered that to be corrected,” said Matt Covey, division chief of fire prevention at Halifax Regional Fire an Emergency.

“Our division became aware of the elevator on March 9th. I believe we inspected a few days later. And in this case, we ordered it corrected within two weeks.”

Read more: Nova Scotia tenant advocacy group calls for landlord licensing bylaw

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Although Doric Management had now told Global News the elevator had been repaired, Covey initially said:

“The report that we’re getting back from the elevator company that looked at the issues, have determined that it’s not repairable.

“So I guess it’s an old elevator and they tried to order some parts, but those parts aren’t working out. They’ve brought in another elevator company to verify that, and it looks like at this point they’re moving forward with a full replacement.”

Covey said the next step is for the inspector to look into the situation and chat with parties involved to see what a reasonable time frame for replacement is.

Solutions to Adam and Tracy’s problem, Covey said, were in the hands of the tenancy board.

Read more: Nova Scotia promises $1.8M to three Halifax affordable housing groups

In the meantime, Tracy and Adam Denney say they are actively looking for a new place to live. But, that’s not an easy task.

“We can’t, with the one per cent rate of vacancies in Halifax, let alone affordable, accessible housing, which is nil around here,” she said.

“It’s just not that easy to pick up and move when you live paycheck to paycheck, so for me to have a damage deposit, moving fees, all that stuff — it’s not that simple,” Tracy said.

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“Affordable, accessible housing within HRM needs to change,” she said.

“We would have been gone from here two years ago, but because we can’t find it, we had no choice but to stay.”

Tracy said they have several people helping them find housing options but it’s just not easy.

“Our goal is to find an apartment that’s accessible for him, affordable and hopefully on the main floor so we don’t have to rely on an elevator,” she said.

“I think we’re hoping that maybe somebody would approach us with regards to an accessible house that would be easier and quicker.”

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