Sunday April 30, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Tenants who have been asked to evacuate from RidgeView Place at 2770 Claude Road in Langford are saying their tenants insurance policies are not covering their sudden expenses.
That might include moving, loss of income, additional transportation costs, additional short-term accommodation costs, etc.
Last week the BC Government stepped up to cover some of this, after being approached about the sudden crisis by the City of Langford. The supports being provided are “to get people through the next short period” (see April 27, 2023 article).
All tenants were directed on April 24, 2023 by the building owner Centurion Asset Management to evacuate due to the City of Langford having revoked the occupancy permit following an advisory from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of BC (EGBC) as to structural deficiencies of the building.
Insurance Bureau and local insurance companies:
Coverage for “personal belongings and liability protection” is itemized by companies that offer tenants/renters insurance.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says on its website that tenants are “responsible for any damage the tenant may cause to any part of the building and for unintentional harm caused to others who live in or visit the property”. However, this evacuation scenario is no fault of the tenants.
[Interesting tech note: The IBC website is *not* secure, i.e. is not protected by an encryption certificate; few large corporate websites are behind the times in that regard.]
But there is a broad statement by IBC about tenants insurance regarding contents: “Contents insurance covers the cost to repair or replace, clothes and most household items. Even if you think your belongings have little value, the cost of replacing everything at once adds up.” In their Tenant Insurance section, it says: “With all risks, all of your contents (except those specifically excluded) are covered.”
What seems not to be covered is relocation costs, loss of income, etc. in a situation such as sudden evacuation. It’s yet unclear whether fault of the structure of the building itself voids insurance coverage in any way.
At the very least, tenants are unaware of what their insurance policies cover. It’s unclear how much is explained to tenants about the details of their policies when first contracted (other than lengthy printed documents).
Support from the provincial government:
Perhaps the Province is aware of this apparent deficiency in tenants insurance, as one of the reasons they were so prompt with emergency services support (ESS) including Evacuee Registration Assistance.
[Click here for: BC Evacuee Registration & Assistance]
Under the provincial ESS program, people forced from their homes may receive support for up to 72 hours.
“No matter the emergency, being evacuated can be stressful and our government is here to support communities in times of crisis,” said Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma, who adds that her ministry is providing temporary supports to RidgeView Place residents.
She notes the supports are temporary “but will help people in the immediate term while the City of Langford explores next steps”.
Support at Langford city hall:
More information for impacted tenants of RidgeView Place — who on April 24 were asked to vacate the premises — is available online on the provincial website ess.gov.bc.ca.
Assistance in person at Langford city hall was available April 27 to 29 (and may continue next week, info to come). That was to assist residents one-on-one to find and book hotels. Residents may also call 250-661-3270 or email the city at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Last week Mayor Goodmanson spoke highly of “compassionate assistance support”, including the West Shore Developers Association stepping forward. Support from other businesses in the community is welcome, he added. Local businesses may call city hall at 250-478-7882 to offer donations, discounted services or fundraising support.
The City is working actively with external agencies to discuss how to best collect and distribute donations and in-kind services to residents of RidgeView Place. Once a formalized process has been set up to equitably distribute the funds, the City will release more details, including where and how to make donations, and how donations will be distributed.
Future of the building:
It is the obligation of the RidgeView Place building owner (Centurion) and structural engineer of record to ensure that authenticated engineering designs and schedules meet the professional standards of Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of BC (EGBC) and the BC Building Code.
There is no indication of the timeline of further inspections, repairs or even possible demolition of the building, should it come to that.
Adjacent operations, including a daycare, have apparently chosen not to operate near the RidgeView Place building for now.
The deeper story is that tenant’s insurance doesn’t cover emergencies like this, the taxpayers do.
Either way — provincial support this time or the City last time through their reserve fund — taxpayers are paying for the shortfall of the building owner, and perhaps also the approving engineer and perhaps also the EGBC, and perhaps also the limitations of the insurance industry.
- Three days later: RidgeView Place occupancy permit crisis update (April 27, 2023)
- Former Danbrook One sees second occupancy permit crisis (April 24, 2023)
- Remaining tenants must vacate Danbrook One says building owner (Jan 16, 2020)
- No set date for safe occupancy at Danbrook One (Dec 31, 2019)
- Danbrook One tenants supported at Emergency Support Centre (Dec 21, 2019)
- Danbrook One tenants supported by GoFundMe campaign (Dec 21, 2019)
- Danbrook One owner is shocked by alleged engineering issues (Dec 20, 2019)
- Langford revokes occupancy permit: Danbrook renters must relocate (Dec 20, 2019)