Garnet Rempel, 72, has mobility issue and says he hasn’t been able to access his third-floor apartment in Langley City after the building’s elevator broke down last Tuesday. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Langley senior left without a home due to broken elevator

A Langley senior with mobility issues says he was left grounded after the elevator in his apartment building stopped working last week.

Garnet Rempel, 72, who uses a scooter to get around, says he had to shell out $98 a day for a motel room because he was unable to access his two-bedroom suite on the third floor of Cassola Place in Langley City.

Rempel told the Times on April 18 that the elevator at Cassola Place broke on April 11, making it impossible for him to access his suite.

He said there have been problems with the elevator “off and on” over the past 36 months.

“This last time, it happened on Tuesday (April 11),” Rempel said. “Now it doesn’t work, period.”

“One time, (members of) the fire department had to carry me upstairs,” Rempel added. “It’s not like it’s an isolated incident.”

Rempel said a sign on the elevator noted that there is no timeline on any repair work. “No date, no time, we’ll keep you abreast of the situation.”

“Now, I’ve got to go to a hotel at 98 dollars a night,” Rempel said. “Who’s paying for this? Do I get any kind of compensation package? I’m not the only tenant with walking problems.”

He said he’s on a limited income and his money is going to run out. “I don’t have a lot of money.”

“I’ve got a bad heart,” Rempel said. “I’m stressed out. I’ve got a mobility problem up the ying yang, and they could care less; they don’t have a clue.”

Two people standing outside the complex late Wednesday afternoon confirmed to the Times that the elevator is still out of service, and has been for more than week.

They also noted that other residents have been left housebound because of this situation.

The property management company has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) executive director Andrew Sakamoto explained that the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) has a number of policy guidelines on various topics affecting renters.

One of them is “termination or restriction of a service or facility.”

“In that document… it does note that an elevator at a multi-storey apartment building is considered an essential service,” Sakamoto said.

“So, particularly for these seniors who may have mobility issues, this is obviously an extremely serious and urgent issue.”

Sakamoto advised that those affected contact their landlord immediately.

Failing that, he noted the tenants’ legal recourse is to apply to the RTB for dispute resolution.

“So that’s essentially B.C.’s tenant/landlord court,” he said. “Through that service, they can ask for an emergency repair order and also compensation. If they’re unable to get up to their units, they certainly have the right to ask to be re-imbursed for those costs.”