Posted August 16, 2020
Michael Hicks says the cockroaches in his Hamilton Mountain apartment building are so bad he can no longer bring his daughter over to stay with him.
The issue in Hicks’ unit, at 15 Ben Lomond Place, has persisted for about eight months, he said. Efforts to address the situation have thus far fallen short.
“They’re taking over the building,” Hicks said of the pests. “I just decided I had enough.”
Hicks was among a group of renters who participated in a brief tenant action event on Aug. 8 outside the four-storey apartment building just south of the Mountain Brow. The event was organized by the Hamilton chapter of ACORN Canada.
Hicks has lived at the building for more than five years. He said prior to encountering issues with cockroaches and black mold, his apartment was a great place to live.
“I’m embarrassed to bring anyone in now,” Hicks said. “It’s gotten to that point.”
Hicks has attempted to fight the cockroaches on his own, with little success. He said the landlord did provide a pest control treatment about two weeks ago, with another treatment scheduled for this week.
Hicks pays just under $900 for his two-bedroom unit. He said he can’t afford to move and doubts he would be able to find another two-bedroom unit in the same price range.
“I just want (the landlord) to take care of the building – take care of your tenants,” he said.
A representative from building overseer Laks Inc. Rental Properties wasn’t immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
ACORN Hamilton downtown chair Mike Wood said the tenant advocacy organization is asking the City of Hamilton to institute a licensing system with landlords that would also enforce property bylaw standards.
The proposed licensing system would also enforce health and safety regulations and fine non-compliant landlords, said Wood.
“It’s been happening before COVID and now even more so during COVID it’s gotten a lot worse, where landlords are not maintaining their properties, not cleaning them and not sanitizing the common areas,” said Wood.
ACORN Hamilton is planning a rally for healthy homes and against “renoviction” on Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. at Hamilton City Hall.
Renoviction is a term used by tenant advocates to describe cash incentives given to tenants to vacate their units, which allows the landlord to re-rent the unit at a higher rate.
“We’re trying to get as many renters out to (the rally) from across the city as possible,” said Wood.
ACORN Canada has also opposed Ontario Bill 184, arguing the legislation will strip tenants of their rights to fight evictions and make it easier for landlords to chase down tenants for rent arrears after vacating their units.
Article by Mike Pearson for the Hamilton Spectator