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The London Free Press: ‘Shameful’: Residents go without heat for months in apartment building - ACORN Canada

The London Free Press: ‘Shameful’: Residents go without heat for months in apartment building

Posted November 23, 2022

Published November 23rd, 2022

Residents of a north London apartment building who have been without heat for months say it’s been a tough go to stay warm with only one portable heater per unit, a circumstance that has sparked criticism from a housing advocate.

A 33-unit apartment complex, known as Hibiscus Garden Apartments located at 629 Huron St., has been unheated since September and repairs were supposed to be completed by now, said one resident who didn’t want her name published. A sign on the building’s door says a heater will be installed Nov. 28.

“It’s been cold,” the resident said. “It’s not been good.”

The resident said many families are sleeping in one room to stay warm at night.

“My concern is the kids in the building,” she said.

As well, the lack of heat has led to a moisture buildup and mould on her walls, she added.

“I’m wiping my walls every day to keep up with it,” she said.

Tenants will only be repaid for the electricity the space heaters use if they provide proof of the extra cost by producing energy bills from a year ago and this year, the resident said.

Jordan Smith, head of the London chapter of ACORN Canada, a national tenants’ group, said one space heater is “not adequate” to heat an entire rental unit.

Issues such as the one facing tenants at Hibiscus Garden are happening “with a greater degree of frequency,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is a significant rise in landlord neglects and outright abuses,” he said. “The reason is even though we have city bylaws that protect vital services we don’t have adequate enforcement.

“It’s becoming all too common and it’s absolutely shameful.”

Smith said a program like the City of Toronto’s RentSafe that requires landlords to register and pay a small fee to the city would ensure a more intensive inspection process and could alleviate many tenant issues.

“RentSafe needs to be implemented now in order to prevent tenants having to go without heat,” he said “As it is set up now, it’s completely on those tenants to do their investigation and try and navigate the city’s website and then it is on them to prove all this has happened.

“These are vulnerable people, low-income people.”

The City of London said it is aware of the heating issues at the apartment building.

“The property owner has been very co-operative and has advised that a repair of the boiler system is scheduled,” the city said in an emailed statement. “In the interim, portable heaters have been supplied to the units.”

The City of London refused to release the name of the owners of the building.

The property is managed by York Property Management and its residence manager, Liam Gorman, said he was “concerned about residents at the complex.”

“I have been providing heaters for all tenants that need it,” he said. “I am doing everything I can.”

Gorman said he was unsure who the owner of the building is.

York Property Management head office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Written by Heather Rivers for The London Free Press