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.”