More woes for 500 Dawes Rd.

Elevator fire galvanizes residents against landlord

Tenants of a notorious Dawes Road highrise are renewing calls for action on much-needed repair work in the building following a December elevator fire that injured two.

Tenants of 500 Dawes Rd. held a rally outside the 300-unit East York highrise on Dec. 30, calling on the city to take aggressive action with the building’s owner to improve conditions.

The building’s persistent state of disrepair has been an ongoing issue, say tenants, but the elevator fire on Dec. 8 has highlighted the need for more attention.

Tenant Julie Hanna says the building is falling apart, and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

The fifth-floor tenant said she’s experienced clogged garbage chutes, human feces in stairwells, as well as vermin and pests.

“If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have moved in here,” said Hanna, who’s been a resident for about two years.

At one point, Hanna was dealing with a cockroach problem in her own unit.

“I couldn’t even sweep under my couch or my furniture because it was so bad. They would just run everywhere,” she said.

She managed to take care of the problem herself but says she recently spotted two more.

Visiting the building on the morning of Jan. 9, the Town Crier saw some of the problems described by Hanna. The garbage at the back of the building was overflowing. The elevator, where the fire occurred, is still boarded up. Dog feces — some bagged, some not — was found scattered all around the premises. In the basement, a light hung from where a ceiling tile should be. At the front of the building, a piece of glass inexplicably fell from a light. A rattrap, covered in dead insects, was stuck to one of the front pillars.

Numerous tenants coming into and out of the building spoke of the issues they’ve had both with the premises and the landlord, but all declined to give their names citing fear of retribution from the owner.

The building is owned by Carolyn Krebs — who also goes by Mrs. Linton — under Havcare Investments Inc. Havcare is also the property manager. Tenants, including Hanna, say Linton is unresponsive to tenants’ requests and needs, and neglects ongoing problems in the building.

Attempts to reach Linton for comment were unsuccessful.

Hanna says she has submitted work order requests to the rental office in the past, with some success. But several have also gone unanswered.

The building has been featured in the Town Crier multiple times in the past in which similar problems were reported.

Additionally, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association reports 500 Dawes Rd. as one of the top three buildings in the city that garner the highest volume of tenant complaints.

According to the updated audit report on the city’s website, several municipal licensing and standards-issued work orders have been dealt with and are closed, but some remain open, including orders to fix balconies and cracked garage walls.

In the meantime, a repair order has been submitted for the damaged elevator, to be done by Jan. 11.

Local councillor Janet Davis said the city is using whatever means possible to help tenants out.

“We’ve taken a fairly aggressive approach to property standards in the building over the years and have issued dozens of notices and orders for maintenance issues,” she said.

To respond to tenants following the fire, Davis held a public meeting Dec. 20, where she says a number of other complaints were raised, including the lack of heat in units, mould and unresponsiveness from the landlord.

“We are going to put a full-court press on this building if it continues to be problematic,” she said.

The Beaches–East York rep is asking that tenants be diligent in reporting their problems to the necessary agencies. If the building is not providing tenants with the proper amenities, she says, they can turn to the Landlord and Tenant Board to request rent abatement.

“Fire galvanized the tenants again to assert their rights, which is an important thing for them to do,” she said. “The more tenants organize and act collectively, the greater the likelihood is that they get a response from the landlord.”


About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh and Shawn Star
Posted: Jan 20 2012 2:03 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto
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