Toronto Community Housing – Canada’s largest landlord – had 452 bylaw violations according to LandlordWatch.com.
“Based on the sheer size of the portfolio plus the repair backlog (estimated at around $2 billion by the end of this year) it’s not surprising that TCH is on the list,” said spokesperson Lisa Murray.
“TCH has 2,100 buildings, just under 60,000 units, 50 million square feet of residential space, and most of our buildings are over 50 years old.”
The landlord next in line in terms of number of violations was Havcare Investments Inc., with 174, according to the website. Their 15-storey apartment building at 500 Dawes Rd. also had the most violations for an individual building.
“You live with cockroaches, vermin, and structural damage,” said tenant Geri Stevens. “You can’t sleep; it’s a hell hole.”
Melissa Feltmate has been living in that same building for three years and allowed Global News into her apartment unit to view the conditions.
“My floor is coming apart,” she said while pointing to broken tiles near her kitchen. Its cabinets are stained brown and many are missing handles.
“It’s frustrating, because I pay my rent – it’s $910 dollars a month – and this is what I accumulate.”
Havcare Investments Inc. did not respond to requests for comment.
Landlords with the most violations (via LandlordWatch.com):
Toronto Community Housing (452 violations)
Havcare Investments Inc. (174 violations)
Bnai Fishel Corporation (170 violations)
Arsandco Investments (145 violations)
Q REIT SUB LP (134 violations)
Global News mapped data used by Rentlogic, the company behind Landlordwatch.com. It reveals buildings with numerous violations spread across the city with clusters in the downtown core and the city’s east end.
“We didn’t see too much seasonality, there are complaints going on throughout the year. They’re slightly more skewed to heat, mold, bed bugs and roaches,” said founder Yale Fox.
“There are definitely repeat offenders. I would say about a third have been there a year before.”
Relief may be coming soon for tenants living under filthy conditions.
Thursday Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee will vote to push forward a draft proposal for landlord licensing.
The plan would require landlords to maintain the interiors and exteriors of their buildings as a condition of their license and give bylaw officials greater power.
“We need to look at more tools that can provide more teeth and enforcement to make these landlords comply,” said Councillor Janet Davis, who’s familiar with the litany of complaints against 500 Dawes Road and it’s landlord as the building is in her ward.
“We are pushing virtually every day to keep on top of her and the state of this building. And we should not have to do this as a city.”
Housing advocates say the data represents only the tip of the tenant iceberg.
“We only have data from wards of proactive city councilors who push the city to investigate buildings or where ACORN is actively working with residents,” said Natalie Hundt, with ACORN Institute Canada. “In other words, where that is not available people don’t know where to complain.”
The proposal to license landlords is expected to have support among councilors according to those working closely on the issue.