Nova Scotia Advocate: Lack of affordable alternatives allows MetCap Living to get away with building neglect, tenants charge

Posted February 24, 2021

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Some 20 tenants of the 500 block on Herring Cove Road and their supporters rallied in front of the local MetCap Living office this morning. 
 
Tenants say they are tired of living in buildings that are in disrepair and not kept clean, with security entrances kept unlocked, and with units that are mouldy, drafty and infested with vermin.
 
“There’s bedbugs, not in my unit, but in the building. There are cockroaches. I have to keep my thermostat at 30, but my radiator baseboard is mostly cold. And the wind just comes right through the windows, because it’s very draughty. When I tell the landlord about the repairs he drops by, and that’s the last I hear of it,” one of the tenants told me. Fearing repercussions she asked to remain anonymous.
 
“Last year I had mould in my living room, and I had to call 311 and get the city inspector to come in. When I pulled the chair out, the whole place was black. There was mould because there was a pipe leaking and MetCap could not fix it. They were in for a few minutes, took off, and didn’t come back. Finally one day I got so mad. I said, I’m going to call 311 and make them fix it.”
 
“That’s when the issue was finally attended to,” she said. “It only took 15 minutes.”  
 
The rally was organized by ACORN Nova Scotia, a membership-based organization that focuses on issues that affect people on low incomes in Nova Scotia. There are several chapters in HRM and across Nova Scotia. The group has been vocal about slum landlords and the need for permanent rent control, income assistance, and payday loan sharks.
 
The people at the rally I spoke with are angry, but say that they realistically have little chance of finding something better, given that people on low income cannot afford monthly rents over $650 or so. Even some of the adjoining apartment buildings on Herring Cove Road are now renting for $1200, they say, which most definitely put them out of reach for people struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage, EI or income assistance.   
 
“The 500 block is one of the most notorious apartment complexes in town. Tenants are living five people to a room because ceilings are caving in, families and seniors are going without heat and people have been living with bed bugs for years,” states a letter penned by ACORN that is posted on its website, and that you can sign in support. 
 
Yesterday the Nova Scotia Advocate published an ACORN press release about the situation, and I can’t remember ever receiving that many comments that quickly from people directly affected. Here are some examples.
 
“540 has one partially working washer for the entire building after a fire took out a machine more than a month ago. All contact with property manager Angie Craig has not been acknowledged.” 
 
“I just recently moved out of 451 Herring Cove Road Madcap Apartments. I lived with cockroaches for the last eight months, would cause me to have to go to airbnb’s and sleep at hotels. They came in twice with Pest Control after hounding them several times and they still will not go away. They said they were going to change my floor that was coming up causing a stink in my house about 4 years ago and it never ever did happen.”
 
“Metcap fired their whole Metcap staff about a year ago and brought in new ppl. Since then these buildings have really gone downhill. One cleaner for about 10 buildings isn’t enough and the maintenance men come and go, the last one stayed two months, all they have for staff over here is one man and one woman in office and one cleaner and nobody to fix anything. Metcap sucks for sure no doubt about it, but the ppl I met here are priceless.”
 
Tenants of the Herring Cove Metcap property are not the only ones with grievances. The Nova Scotia Advocate, and the Halifax Media Coop before that, have reported regularly on adverse living conditions in Metcap buildings all across HRM.
 
MetCap responds
 
We asked MetCap management to respond to the issues raised by the tenants.
 
After publication we received an email from Michael Guyette, VP Operations, Metcap Living Operations. 
 
“At MetCap we our proud of the buildings we manage. In this case, Spryfield has a resident couple at the building with additional cleaning support,” Guyette writes.  
 
“We have many ways in which residents can communicate with us and our team to get things done.  They can fill out worker orders and deliver them directly to our on-site building managers.  They can call our customer service line which is available seven days per week  to assist residents.  
 
“We strongly encourage residents to complete work orders and submit them for any issues they may have in our apartments or call our customer service line. We are committed to ensure all work orders are completed on a timely basis,” writes Guyette.

 

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Article by Robert Devet for the Nova Scotia Advocate

 

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