Northview admits staff ignored pet fee error, pledges to ‘make it right’
Northview Apartment REIT says errors made by staff in charging NWT tenants illegal pet fees are “unacceptable,” adding the company will do “whatever is necessary … to make it right.”
The comments came in a letter distributed to tenants on Sunday and Monday. Residents in Yellowknife reported receiving a one-page letter in which the company said a review of what happened was now complete.
Northview’s letter promises action to refund affected tenants but also sets out the terms tenants must now follow to keep pets, including a refundable deposit of half a month’s rent.
The CBC first reported in November that Northview, which operates many of Yellowknife’s rental units, had been charging monthly pet fees – usually $25 per pet – to keep animals in its buildings. However, legislation in the territory allows only for the collection of refundable deposits, not regular fees.
The broadcaster said the territory’s rental officer had asked Northview “dozens of times to stop.”
Later in the same month, Northview promised to review what it called the “deeply troubling” allegations.
In Monday’s update, the company unequivocally admitted fault and promised action to compensate affected tenants.
“We were disappointed to learn that some residents were indeed incorrectly charged pet fees, contrary to the relevant sections of the NWT Residential Tenancies Act,” the company wrote in the unsigned letter, dated February 1.
“When made aware of this error, responsible staff did not ensure it was immediately corrected,” the letter continued.
“This was unacceptable and we are doing whatever is necessary not only to make it right, but to make sure it never happens again.”
In the detail of the letter, Northview said a new pet deposit policy was in place with inspections of tenants’ homes to follow.
In the course of explaining how affected tenants would be compensated, the company said tenants would in future be expected to hand over half a month’s rent as a refundable deposit if they wished to keep pets. (This only applies to some buildings. Not all Northview properties allow pets.)
“You will be contacted over the coming weeks to schedule an inspection of your suite with notification of Northview’s intent of collecting a pet security deposit,” the letter reads.
Tenants who’ve already overpaid in illegally collected pet fees will be offered either a full refund or they can have the money transferred directly into the new refundable pet deposit. There was no mention of additional compensation for the breach.
Former tenants who were affected but no longer live in a Northview property would receive a full refund, the company said, adding it would seek to apply the money to rent arrears if an account was not in good standing.