CTV News : Tenants go face-to-face with landlord following rights rally
Posted June 6, 2023
Members of a London, Ont. social justice group, tenants, and supporters marched into the downtown offices of a prominent city landlord Tuesday.
The ACORN tenant union delivered a list of demands to an executive with Old Oak Properties.
It asks for immediate remedies to nine concerns relating to rent, management and maintenance at several buildings in the area of Adelaide Street North, near Huron Street.
Tenant Bobbi-Jo Bongertman spoke of the alleged issues she has faced in her unit during a rally at Victoria Park.
The rally occurred just before the unannounced March to the Old Oak offices on Dufferin Street.
“It doesn’t matter how many layers of clothing we wear. We are still freezing,” Bongertman told the crowd.
Bongertman alleged repeated calls to address the lack of heat and pest concerns have not been returned.
Yet, at the door of the Old Oak offices, she had a chance to discuss her frustration with company executive Robert Bierbaum.
“Nobody answers me back!” she told him.
Bierbaum responded, “I’m going to look into this.”
Afterward, Bongertman said she was doubtful the company will follow up, but she did give Bierbaum credit for coming out to speak to the crowd.
“They opened the door. They agreed to the meeting. So, we’ll follow up, and hopefully, they actually do the meeting,” she said.
Robert Bierbaum of Old Oak Properties issued a statement to CTV News London Tuesday afternoon.
He said the buildings in question were acquired by Old Oak just two years ago and are currently undergoing enhancements.
Over the past two years he said $2-million have been invested in the nine structures.
He also stated his company is working hard to resolve any maintenance concerns tenants share with his firm, and encourage tenants to submit maintenance requests when issues arise so they can be scheduled and resolved.
“We have reached out to ACORN to request that they advise specific tenants to notify us directly about any concerns using one of the many communication methods. A response will be provided and appropriate action taken immediately to work to resolve concerns and ensure that our tenants feel safe and comfortable in their homes,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the protesters also took to London City Hall. There, they demanded local politicians make changes to protect tenants, particularly those facing ‘renovictions’ on Webster Street in the city’s northeast end. The Webster Street buildings are not owned or managed by Old Oak properties.
“We have bylaws in place in this city, theoretically, to protect tenants. But, we lack the enforcement to do anything about it,” explained ACORN Leader Jordan Smith.
Nawton Chiles, the co-chair of the Stoneybrook/Carling Chapter of ACORN, said the city needs to licence all landlords to improve enforcement and address tenant complaints.
“You need a licence to fish. You need a licence to run a business. These landlords are clearly a business,” he told CTV News London.
Article by Sean Irvine for CTV News