Rental Refunds and Updates
To all of our renters,
We are aware that Manitoba has declared a 30 day State of Emergency. This does qualify some people for refunds of their rental deposits. The people who currently qualify have already been contacted and are aware that they will be receiving a refund within the next two weeks. For upcoming events, we are repeating the guidelines on how to qualify for a refund:
1) The event must be something that would be forced to cancel due to the government legislation. If the government legislates that the maximum number of guests at an event is 250, a party of 100 would not qualify for a refund. In this case, all rentals of more than 50 people meet this criteria.
2) The event must occur within two weeks of the date of cancellation. This allows us to adapt to the ever-changing landscape that the virus is creating. We wish we were psychic and could tell where we would be at two months from now, but we aren’t. That means that we’re stuck playing the ‘wait and see’ game just as much as our events are. This means that all rentals that occur prior to April 3rd, 2020 have already been contacted and told that they are receiving their refunds.
3) The event cannot have previously been cancelled. This is a new one that we are adding. We have a number of rentals who have cancelled their events over the past few weeks, with the understanding that they would not receive a refund of their deposit. They were offered the options of scaling back their events (where possible), or changing the date. We do have some who elected to cancel anyway. These rentals are not eligible to receive a refund of their deposit money, as the cancellation occurred prior to the State of Emergency being declared.
We are getting a lot of phone calls and emails right now about refunds. We understand that people are scared, and that they could really use the money. We have told people before that we operate on a shoestring budget, and that fact is manifesting itself now. Right now, we cannot afford to refund everyone for their rentals. We would get through the summer, and we would be bankrupt. The only way that we can ensure that the events who are directly impacted by the State of Emergency is to make sure that they are the first people to receive refunds.
Yes, this means waiting for many people. We know that this is not ideal. In an ideal world, we would have not only enough money to refund all of our renters, but enough money to pay the staff while the building is closed. As it stands, the majority of our staff have been laid off so that we can afford to refund rental deposits for people.
We are not obligated to provide refunds for people. There is no law that states that we have to move events around, or try to find ways to make them work right now. We are doing this because it is the right thing to do. Our renters deserve the best that we can offer them, which means refunds where possible, moving dates around with no extra costs, and any other measures that we can possibly take. The majority of our renters have been very understanding of this. We will repeat our statement from the past few days, and say that our renters are some of the best people we could ever hope to work with.
That said, there have been some renters who are definitely not understanding of the situation. We understand that people are frightened, that they have been laid off and are scared of what's coming. That is not an excuse to tell one of our staff members that they will be the reason that their entire family starves to death, and that the blood will be on our staff member's hands. There is no excuse for telling one of our staff members that you hope they catch COVID-19 and die. There is no excuse for telling our staff members that they will be buried in an unmarked grave because nobody loves them enough to care. This is absolutely not acceptable under any circumstance.
We have no legal obligation to provide refunds for our renters, although a lot of people believe that we do have to offer them. There are many news articles that talk about how people are not able to cancel their events without additional fees, or move their events at all. We have had people calling us all week, asking why other Community Centres aren't answering their calls about their weddings and wedding socials. We are offering our rentals the ability to move their events as many times as necessary with no additional costs. We are offering them refunds if they are directly impacted by the State of Emergency legislation. We are not obligated to do any of this, but we want to. We rely on our rentals, so they need the best service that we can possibly give them. This is a link to the Government of Canada's website, one that outlines the rights of renters to receive refunds: https://www1.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02478.html
We want to again thank all of our amazing rentals who have understood that we have our backs against the wall right now, and have understood that they need to be patient and wait for their refunds. You are the reason that we are doing what we are, because you deserve it.
For those of you that are waiting for a refund, please hang in there with us. If your event is unable to happen, we will get you your refund as long as we are financially able to. Yes, it may mean waiting a little bit, but we are honestly doing the best that we can, and we appreciate you understanding that.