Tenants of Limestone Property Management are speaking out on social media over maintenance workers who are allegedly not wearing masks while working in residential units. The tenants allege that the company’s employees have not been compliant with the emergency order issued by the City of Kingston in September.
The order requires individuals to wear face coverings while in any enclosed common area of a multi-unit residential building. Building owners are also required to place appropriate signage at all entrances to the building indicating this new measure.
The tenant said she grew frustrated after documenting three instances of the company’s maintenance workers not wearing masks while working within common areas. According to the tenant, she tried to address her concerns through Limestone Property Managers, but no action was taken.
“We felt it was ridiculous that they are a property management company but we the tenants had to push for the mask bylaw to be enforced,” she said. “They ignored our message, and we had to get Bylaw involved to literally force them to put the signs up that masks must be worn in the common areas.”
Once the tenant called Kingston Bylaw Enforcement, Limestone Property Management was given 24 hours to put up signs requiring that residents and employees wear masks within the building. However, the tenant alleged that the maintenance worker posting the signs were themselves not wearing a mask.
This prompted the tenant to film the maintenance workers on video. The tenant said that the maintenance workers only wore a mask half an hour later, upon noticing a camera in the room.
After the tenant shared her story on Reddit, several residents began sharing their own experiences of the company not wearing masks while in residential dwellings and common areas.
“They manage my building too, never a mask in sight – they have outside contractors come in, same thing,” one comment wrote.
Another tenant raised concerns about the company performing “3D walkthroughs” of the building during the first wave of the pandemic.
In an email to YGK News, Property Manager Jason Ruffolo wrote that these incidents are rare and do not reflect their operations.
“It’s important to understand that although companies implement procedures and train staff on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ (specifically around COVID), these situations, unfortunately, can present themselves,” Ruffolo wrote. “We have a number of maintenance staff on the road and 99% of the time they follow rules and respect government and municipal guidelines and regulations.”
With regards to the tenant’s claims that no action was taken, Ruffolo disagreed and believed the assertion was inaccurate.
“After receiving information on the incident a few days ago, we immediately sent a message to every maintenance personnel explaining the severity and indicating the requirement, again, of wearing masks inside,” Ruffolo wrote. “The employee from the incident explained his story and what had happened; pertaining to glasses being fogged up. Our office has since purchased face shields for each maintenance worker, so that this particular issue does not happen again.”
In response to complaints about the conduct of the company’s contractors, Ruffolo said that “although we notify them of the guidelines of mask wearing, we are unable to monitor their every step.”
In light of the complaints, Limestone Property Management is now conducting meetings each morning to emphasize the importance of mask use and to ensure that “hand-sanitizing bottles, wipes, and masks” are supplied. They also say that they have one part-time staff member responsible for ensuring that the building is equipped with cleaning supplies, masks and hand sanitizer bottles. Extra precautions are now being taken at their head office.
The City of Kingston has clarified the process by which a Bylaw Enforcement officer administers an Administrative Monetary Penalty.
“In the event that a Bylaw Enforcement officer investigates and identifies an infraction, it is up to the officer’s discretion to proceed with an Administrative Monetary Penalty. If the evidence or situation supports taking action after an initial warning has been issued, the maximum fine for failure to comply with an emergency order is $2000,” the City said.
Dan Hazell, supervisor of Licensing and Enforcement, told YGK News that a warning has been issued to Limestone Property Management. An investigation was carried out, which included the review of a video taken by the tenant. However, the violation could not be substantiated and a fine was not issued.
“Bylaw Officers have followed up with multiple complaints relating to masks not being worn at this location,” Hazell said on October 26. “Warnings have been issued with no subsequent fines as the violations could not be substantiated at this point in time. The property management company in question has informed all workers of the requirements and has put the appropriate signage up. Any future complaints will be investigated and addressed accordingly, as with the previous complaints.”
As of October 27, there are 7 active cases in the Kingston Area and there have been a total of 180 cases in the area since the pandemic began.