CBC: After nearly 3 months, the water’s back on at east Hamilton apartment building
Posted March 27, 2023
Tenants are still waiting for hot water to be restored and remain ‘extremely upset and frustrated,’ says ACORN
David Galvin’s water is running for the first time in nearly three months.
The long-awaited repairs to pipes at 1083 Main St. E. in Hamilton began last week. While the water is icy cold, with the hot water not yet connected, Galvin said it’s proof of what the tenants have been insisting since late December — the work could be done in a matter of days without anyone having to move out.
“We feel abandoned in this whole situation,” Galvin said. “It’s a tremendous stress on all of us and has had a serious impact on the mental health of my fellow tenants.”
The building’s landlord Dylan Suitor shut off the building’s water supply on Dec. 28 when pipes burst after being exposed to cold air during renovations. The city ordered Suitor to replace the broken pipes, but he appealed and the case didn’t go to the city’s property standards committee until late February — all the while the tenants remained without running water.
In a joint submission with the city, Suitor’s paralegal Angela Smith argued the tenants needed to vacate for the repairs to be done. The property standards committee, made up of five members of the public, agreed to wait to enforce the order until after eviction hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
Building’s owner a real estate agent and investor
Hearings for two of seven tenants took place earlier this month. There, the board made it clear Suitor was in serious breach of responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act for not ensuring the units had running water, which is considered a vital service.
The breach is grounds for the board to refuse an eviction request. Suitor withdrew his applications.
For now, those two tenants don’t face eviction, while the remaining five tenants are still waiting for their hearing dates to be set.
Neither Suitor nor Smith have responded to new requests for comment.
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Suitor is the CEO of a Keller Williams franchise, based in Oakville, Ont. He has posted to social media and spoken publicly about investing in Ontario real estate. However, he recently deactivated his Instagram account, where he had over 300,000 followers, and removed posts on his Facebook page.
An online article from October 2021 describes Suitor’s 60-unit building in east Hamilton, where Galvin currently lives, as a “shorter-turnaround project” with the potential for lockers, laundry, underground parking and loft-style apartments that would double its value to $20 million.
The work to replace the pipes began March 20, with contractors entering some units to look for leaks and repair toilets, according to ACORN Hamilton, which advocates for tenant rights of low-income people.
On March 24 at 2 p.m. cold water was restored, ACORN said in a statement. Hot water is expected to return early this week.
“Tenants remain extremely upset and frustrated by the level of neglect the landlord has been able to get away with without consequence,” the statement said. “Tenants are not aware of any fines against the landlord by the City of Hamilton for withholding a vital service.”
In a communication update to council earlier this month, staff said the property standards committee will meet again on April 5. Then it will set a date Suitor has to comply with the city’s order. If he does not, the city will hire a contractor to do the repair, at Suitor’s expense.
Article by Samantha Beattie for CBC News