Talking about the cockroaches in her apartment makes at least one tenant of an east Toronto apartment building distraught.
There is also the inadequate heating, faulty appliances, defective toilets, mice, bedbugs and garbage piled high at the rear of the building, Lisa Hume said. But it is the cockroaches that keep her up at night with worry.
The scurrying roaches are so numerous when the lights are turned on in her 500 Dawes Rd. apartment that it sometimes appears as if the floor is moving, she said.
Hume was one of 40-or-so tenants of the building gathered in the lobby Friday to protest the landlord’s lack of upkeep of the low-rent apartment building, and the shoddy conditions they say they are living in.
After numerous visits from city standards, health and fire officials, tenants are now asking both the City and Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board to step in and help them.
Hume, who has been spearheading the tenants’ call for action along with a community activists Toronto ACORN, has consulted a law firm dealing in legal-aid cases.
The owner, a woman the tenants seem to know only as Mrs. Linton, is rarely there, Hume said. When Linton is there, she is confrontational when tenants complain.
On Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards website, the building has a long list of investigation requests and violation notices dating back to 2008, including issues such as pest infestations, cracks and holes in the walls, garbage in the hallways and water damage.
While most of the cases have been rectified, tenants say problems are only fixed to the bare minimum and nothing is usually done until the owner is forced to bring the building up to code.
“We’ve all had confrontations with the owner,” said Hume. “We can’t wait two weeks for a working toilet, or a working stove. There are people in this building with young children.”
The building sits in the ward of city councillor Janet Davis (Beaches-East York), who on Friday said Linton is an example why the Ontario should consider licensing landlords.
“This is a landlord who continues to have to be pushed to make necessary repairs,” said Davis as she mixed among the tenants who had gathered in the building’s lobby. “I’ve been fighting this landlord for seven years over everything, from mould to...general repair...It’s a long story of neglect.”
Julie Hanna, 43, said she has had many problems in her apartment.
“My wall is falling apart in the kitchen, (and) I’ve had problems with cockroaches, mice,” said Hanna, adding that there is “no heat...whatsoever.”
Hanna was one of the many tenants who were shut out of their apartments earlier in December after a fire in one of the building’s elevators forced an evacuation. The elevator has yet to be fixed. Today, a large slab of wood sits where the elevator door should be.
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