Tensions flare up at fire meeting

Dave Mathieson
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The Lions Den in Amherst was busy yesterday with people bringing donations. 

AMHERST – Landlords and tenants don’t always see eye to eye, and yesterday was no exception.

Only one day after his building was demolished by fire, the owner of the Victoria Arms Apartments, Alex Filion, met with about 30 tenants at the Lions Club in Amherst and wrote cheques for tenants who lost everything in the fire.

“He was writing out cheques for damage deposits and $100 extra, and for those that didn’t pay a damage deposit, they got $100 extra,” said a former tenant after the meeting.

 “Every apartment is a different rate. My damage deposit was $285.”

The tenant, who didn’t want his name used in this story, received a cheque for $385.

He said that on the back of each cheque being issued was written, ‘No further claims after cashed.’

The tenant alleges that either the owner or his employee directed profanity toward another tenant, who questioned the writing on the back of the cheques.

“That’s not professional. That made everybody irate,” he added. “To say something like that at a time like this, there was no need of it.”

Another tenant, who didn’t want her name used in this story, backed up his claim.

“He (the tenant who had the cheque re-written) kicked the table right at him (the owner),” said the girl.

After the incident the owner wrote cheques to the tenants without the words on the back.

The male tenant believes ‘No further claims after cashed’ was written on the back of each cheque so the landlord could cover himself in case any lawsuits were brought forward against him.

One issue of debate seems to be whether or not the alarm system was functioning properly.

The meeting was not open to the public, and about one hour into the two-hour meeting, Filion held a media scrum in a room just off the boot room of the Lions Club.

During the scrum Filion said, “The alarms went off, so we did what we could from a building perspective.”

The tenant disagrees.

“There’s people in there the town police had to wake up because the alarm didn’t go off,” said the tenant, whose property was insured, but lost two cats in the fire.

Asked if he thinks a lawsuit will be brought forward by any of the tenants, he said, “I haven’t heard anything about a lawsuit but I wouldn’t be surprised.

“I just don’t feel the landlord had any feeling or heart for the tenants. He didn’t go above and beyond at all,” he added. “I feel everybody has the right to know the kind of attitude he had.”

During the media scrum, Filion said the destruction of his building, which was insured, was a “terrible loss.”

He pegged the value of the building at ‘$1.65 or 1.7 million.’

“That’s just based on the capital. The replacement value is usually higher,” he said.

Fillion said he recently invested $700,000 in the building.

“We renovated 10 units completely from top to bottom, and then we worked on the other units.”

Asked if he was thinking of rebuilding on the site, Filion said, “If we can rebuild.”

“Obviously it was a tight building on a small lot,” he added. “We’d have to look at the current regulations and codes to see if we can put units there, and commercial spaces.”













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Recent comments

  • honker
    September 02, 2012 - 07:28

    I disagree with Louise. The tenants appeared to be treated well. The landlord was quick to give them their deposits back, plus $100, something he was not obligated to do. Sounds like we have a tenant that has hostility to the world, especially since he apparently didn't bother to purchase insurance, kicking the table, really!. As far as rebuilding, well by the time the Amherst bureaucrats are through with the landlord concerning a new structure, it is doubtful anything of substance will be built unless Mr. Filion has good government connections and gets government business. Of course this is not the kind of tenant that provides a dynamic downtown core, more like a 9 to 5 snooze fest interspersed with occasional sounds of paper shuffling.

  • unconsiderate
    August 29, 2012 - 17:14

    I agree with JR.This man did not have to give them a cent!THEY sound to be ungrateful,and should have had insurance of their own!!!!AND there were reports of the tenants telling the media about the alarm,and past pranks.this man accepted pets and any other landlord(s) in this town do not allow pets.AND no other landlord would have went out of their way.This man lost more then these people,and to sue anyone costs lots of money,and these people qbviously won't be able to take this route,so it's best that it's left alone and take the check,because he could have taken the cheques to his own home town,something I would have personnally done after the aggressive behaviour of that male tenate,if anything he should have been reported to the cops!!!

  • sad
    August 29, 2012 - 15:49

    I agree with you JR. As a landlord I advice all my tenets that they should get tenet insurance as our building is insured it does not cover the tenets items. That landlord was very very generous as he gave damage deposits back with a 100.00 extra, a 100.00 that did not have to be given.... It’s very sad that this has happened and many people are with out, but the community has came together to donate items to these families with benefits already in order. One of my family member’s apartments burned down about 5 or 6 years ago and he lost a lot of items, his landlord did nothing, and he did not have tenet insurance, it only cost something like 20.00 a month which is not a lot considering what you have to loss. Your landlord is not responsible for lost items. As far as the fire alarms you could hear them going off a block away so therefore I am sure everything was in working order.

  • justagirl
    August 29, 2012 - 13:51

    I agree. This is a terrible situation and god bless those people who lost everything but if you live in an apartment situation you MUST have tennants insurance. The owner had no obligation to give anything to the tennants and the fact that he did was a very thoughtful gesture. Contents insurance is less than 25.00 per month to have that piece of mind. PLease if you dont have it, get it to avoid this. Best wishes to all those who lost their homes.

  • jr
    August 29, 2012 - 12:11

    I think that the tennants should be happy that they got some money back at all. I do feel sorry for the people who lived there, but why did they not ahve insurance themselves? That type of insurance does not cost much and yes I know that some things are not able to be replaced. I think that it was a generous offer on behalf of the owner to give them some money and then a little extra to help out. don't forget now people, this person has also had a great loss. Also, I can recall many people saying that they heard the alarm and they were on different floors so if someone slept through it and had to be notified otherwise, then it is no ones fault for that.

    • lousie
      August 29, 2012 - 14:35

      I think that tenant who made a big deal about the cheque being written on the back was smart to do so and not just grateful for the few dollars being thrown his/her way. Why would he (the landlord) write this on the back of the cheque other than for the reason the tenant mentioned. I totally agree. I am sure the landlord would be happy to recieve an insurance cheque in that great of an amount while others go without. Don't be so quick to think the landlord is such a great person - he may have his own interest in mind. Check into who he is and you may feel the same. All the best to the tenants and sorry for this troubling time you have to go through. An alarm should be loud enough to wake a sleeping person considering fires do happen at night as well as daytime- that's one of the purposes of having a working alarm, right?