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Insauga : After almost 100 days without hot water, Ontario resident calls for better tenant protections - ACORN Canada

Insauga : After almost 100 days without hot water, Ontario resident calls for better tenant protections

Posted March 28, 2024

Due to tenant and landlord disputes, new specifications have been cultivated to make sure all involved parties are on the same page across Ontario. For Mississauga, this comes in the form of the Mississauga Apartment Rental Compliance (MARC) program, a five-year pilot program that’s purpose-built to help ensure apartment buildings support safe and liveable standards for tenants.

However, for some, this new system is not without its blind spots.

Rental disputes and evictions are now part of Ontario’s DNA, as both ‘renovictions’ and ‘demovictions’ have become increasingly commonplace across the province. This has resulted in organizations that protect tenants, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), becoming increasingly active in the province.

The Peel ACORN offices have been monitoring the MARC program since its launch in 2022, and according to some Mississauga residents, the protections ensured by it have been falling substantially short.

April Johnston — an ACORN member from the Peel region — has been documenting her struggles while living in a local apartment community. For personal safety, Johnston asked only to reveal that she lives in a five-building complex in the Rathburn and Central Parkway area.

“Several tenants, including myself, have been having issues with mice and roaches, as well as reports of lack of proper heat. We had one tenant go 34 days without hot water, from December to January,” Johnston says.

Johnston, however, has gone without consistent hot water for over 90 days

Under the conditions set by MARC, a by-law officer was sent to check on the status of Johnston’s unit. However, according to Johnston, the officer only measured her hot water for a little over 30 seconds and then dismissed the initial complaint. reached out to the City of Mississauga for comment concerning the standards held by MARC for hot water distribution.

“Hot water in a dwelling unit shall be at least 43 degrees Celsius measured at the tap with the water running for at least 30 seconds. While the By-law specifies a minimum measurement period, staff exercise discretion in extending the measurement period if circumstances warrant,” said Georgios Thenos, the city’s director of enforcement, in an emailed response.

Johnston has been reporting hot water fluctuations that last at minimum several minutes at a time, and according to her, assessment extensions being at the leisure of the bylaw officer doesn’t do much in the way of help. Beyond that, Johnston also believes that the three-month game of chicken between her and her property managers for a new water heater has been no accident.

“I believe the reason it has taken 92 days to replace my hot water tank is punishment because I am vocal about issues in the building,” says Johnston.

Johnston has been allegedly forced to collect the limited hot water available to her in a bucket and then dump it on herself to bathe. Johnston has also gone on record stating she has severe sciatica and arthritic issues, making this effort incredibly painful.

Additional concerns also include the correspondence Johnston has received back from management surrounding her complaints, as any documentation sent back to her from building management has allegedly had four separate organizations seen on the provided letterhead. has reached out to the organizations for comment.

When asked about inconsistent correspondence from landlords, representatives for the City of Mississauga said that any outside provisions from secondary representatives fall outside the purview of the MARC program.

“The MARC program aims to encourage greater transparency between apartment building owners and tenants. However, the enforcement of this is limited to the requirements contained within the Rental Apartment Buildings By-law,” said Thenos via email.

As a byproduct of the unsteady foundation of the MARC program, both Johnston and the Peel division of ACORN are calling for a major reassessment of current MARC policies.

Additional calls to action made on behalf of Johnston include a greater interest in in-unit inspections made on behalf of bylaw officers, as current standards often gravitate to non-tenanted areas being the most frequently inspected. However, much like water temperature assessments, there is space for only very minor wiggle room, and only upon request.

“MARC inspections are not limited to non-tenanted areas, although the proactive, rotating inspections that are part of the MARC program are for non-tenanted areas. Tenants can submit complaints about their units as part of the MARC program, and MLEOs [Municipal Law Enforcement Officers] will be dispatched to investigate in-unit issues, with the permission of the tenants,” Thenos said.

As of the time of this report, Johnston has had a new water heater installed in her unit, ending the 92 days of unreliable hot water.

However, an ACORN representative immediately informed that all water pressure in her kitchen disappeared.

Article by Jake Pesaruk for Insauga