Group protests rental conditions at St. Clarens Avenue Apartments

Tenants of a Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue area tower say they're suffering with rental conditions they are unable to live in.

A dozen residents of 730 St. Clarens Avenue Apartments rallied outside their building this week to bring attention to the issue. They claim they're dealing with poor maintenance, safety hazards and an insect infestation, including cockroaches and bedbugs.

Ana Dinar and her sister Mary Francisco began renting an apartment there in 2008 and said the longer they lived in the building, the more maintenance issues arose. Their shower ran continuously for months, they said.

"There's mold and mildew growing because of the constant running water," said Dinar at Wednesday's rally.

Fellow tenant Ahmed Rahman, who has lived at 730 St. Clarens for six years, said he waited for months to get his toilet repaired.

"Yes, it got fixed, but it took three months," said Rahman, who along with fellow tenants held signs that read, 'Honk for Better Housing.'

Heather Kilgour, the building's office manager, said she couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.

"I don't know what people were trying to prove," she said. "We take care of our tenants. We do repairs. We fix what needs to be done."

No one approached management about the rally, said Kilgour.

"Whoever these people were, they never came to speak to us," she said. "Repairs get done. I don't know what this was all about."

She said only a few of the people who live in the more than 270 units took part in the event.

The rally was held with the support of The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada). ACORN Canada is one of the country's largest network of community unions with more than 30,000 low and moderate income members organized into more than 20 neighbourhood chapters in Toronto, Greater Vancouver, Ottawa and Hamilton. ACORN members band together in an effort to improve communities - its members choose what issues to address from traffic problems to a lack of police protection, for example. They also tackle nationwide concerns, such as raising the minimum wage and increasing affordable homeownership.

[Toronto] ACORN member Judy Kham, who also happens to be a resident in the St. Clarens building, said she and her fellow tenants have to call the city's health department to get action from their landlord.

The Toronto chapter of ACORN [Canada] has been fighting for a system of landlord licensing for several years. This would include regular inspections of apartment buildings, a pass-fail notification system and a city administered escrow account.