Drama continues for displaced tenants

Displaced tenants of a North Toronto apartment building waiting for the expected March 25 completion of heating system repairs were granted new temporary accommodations on March 19 in an emergency hearing they demanded with the Landlord and Tenant Board after determining accommodations arranged in a hearing the day before were not acceptable.

According to Yonge & Strathgowan Tenants administrator Dan Simon, who represented the tenants, the 15 residents of 2779 Yonge St., already out of their homes for five weeks, were “at the end of their rope” when they discovered three of the eight alternate apartments arranged for them by landlord Bianca Pollak were unavailable and others were “less than sanitary.”

Adjudicator Joseph Berkovits ordered the landlord to put them up until repairs are complete at the same midtown hotel he had her check them into at a March 6 hearing.

“The adjudicator made a good decision, going with the status quo,” tenant Andrew Gallagher said after the emergency hearing. “It’s unfortunate that we have to go back to the hotel, but at least it’s a warm bed and hot water.”

Tenants of the Yonge Street and Strathgowan Avenue apartment building have been without heat and hot water since the morning of Feb. 11, when firefighters arrived to investigate a suspected carbon monoxide leak. The building’s furnace was condemned, and Toronto Hydro has refused to turn the gas on until the heating system has been repaired.

The Landlord and Tenant Board got involved on Feb. 26, after Simon called accusing Pollak of not taking the necessary steps to repair the furnace. There have been five hearings so far.

On March 18 Pollak told the board the heating system will be repaired by March 25, and revealed that she had arranged through a short-term rental company for alternate accommodations at eight apartments, three of them at her 19 Strathgowan Ave. building and five downtown.

Berkovits initially granted Pollak’s arrangement. Tenants faxed an emergency hearing request to the board hours later, citing what Simon called “less than sanitary” conditions — including mould, water damage, stained floors and broken light fixtures — in Pollak’s apartments, and having discovered that three of the other five apartments weren’t available.

Most spent the night in their own apartments, in spite of there being no heat or hot water.

At the March 19 hearing, Pollak said she was making every effort to repair the building’s aging heating system and accommodate the tenants, and insisted the Strathgowan apartments she provided were in livable condition.

Berkovits allowed the tenants to decline staying in Pollak’s apartments, and arranged the new accommodations for them one by one.

Pollak told the Town Crier on March 18 she has been “trying very hard to finish the installation,” but declined to provide additional comment after the later hearing.

Related stories:
Landlord pays for hotel stay
Apartments without heat, landlord ordered to repair

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Posted: Mar 22 2014 3:07 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto