‘I boil water to shower’: Tenants live without heat or hot water for weeks in downtown Toronto apartment building

Tenants in a Toronto building have been without heat or hot water for weeks.

“I boil water to shower, I boil water to wash dishes, I turn on heaters and I’m constantly juggling outlets to make sure I don’t trip breakers,” said Tanya Osmond, who lives in the building in the Church and Wellesley area. .

“It has been exhausting. It’s been incredibly, incredibly exhausting. And that fear of feeling so unsafe in your own home.”

According to Osmond, her neighbor heard the sound of cut pipes on December 13 and the next day, she went to the boiler room and saw that a gas line had been disconnected and uncovered.

“It was right next to the boilers that were working. There are open flames in those boilers, it’s obviously an incredibly dangerous situation,” Osmond said, adding that he called the Technical Safety Standards Authority (TSSA).

A TSSA spokesperson confirmed to CTV News Toronto that they sent an inspector to find some safety risks.

“[…] At that moment they call the gas distributor, which in this case was Enbridge, which has [the] ability to shut off the gas and also has the responsibility to ensure that the gas is supplied in safe conditions,” said Alexandra Campbell, spokesperson for TSSA. “There were certainly some pretty serious hazards that required the gas to be turned off, which is obviously a very difficult decision to make in the winter.”

The TSSA said inspectors found between 15 and 20 non-compliance issues.

The gas was turned off on December 19 and since then the temperature inside has plummeted. City staff have been coming daily to take the building’s temperature, and around noon on Monday, it recorded less than 9C inside David Holysh’s apartment. The statute requires that a building be maintained at 21 degrees.

“Is it cold, right? “I can see my breath, it’s very, very cold,” she said. “Last night I tried to live here, but it was too cold and my feet and fingers were numb.”

Building management has offered to help tenants find alternative accommodations and has provided heaters for tenants staying in their units.

Holysh said three of his five heaters came from the building, but he can’t plug them all in at once or his circuit breakers will cut him off.

“So I can’t really warm them up as much as they need to,” he told CTV News. “The building cannot support the operation of all these heaters at once.”

CTV News reached out to building management for comment, but no one responded via post. In emails sent to tenants, reviewed by CTV News Toronto, 30 Charles Property Management said: “…the city’s bylaw enforcement officer has elected to impose a daily fine of $500 from the date when heating services are suspended”.

That email goes on to say: “…We have already offered temporary replacement accommodation, waiving rent for those finding their own temporary accommodation or compensation for permanent replacement. Since these options voluntarily and indirectly penalize us and solve the problem, having a second sanction by the City contradicts the principle of avoiding double criminality.”

It concludes with: “We will make legal inquiries about whether we are required to offer any rent reduction and what the amount is legally required, and we will keep you informed. Until then, full rent payment remains.”

For Holysh, that complicates things. He stays at a friend’s apartment that is normally rented.

“It’s a bit of a tough situation where I don’t think he’s going to make me pay rent at the end of the day, but I’ve also put him in a tough position where he’s not going to collect rent.” ,” he said. “So, in my case, I had to look for rent somewhere else besides here. It’s hard having to pay two rents at once.”

According to the city, it has active investigations of complaints related to the building at 30 Charles St. E and “is taking enforcement action, including the imposition of charges (fines).”

Tenants say new property management purchased the building in March 2023. According to city records from 2017, when RentSafeTO was established, until January 2023, there was a request for service. From March 1, 2023 to December 31, there have been 61.

“From March 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023, after conducting investigations, the City issued seven Compliance Orders and two Notices of Violation regarding property standards at 30 Charles St. E. During this period , three re-inspection fees were paid. loaded.”

The TSSA is investigating why the boiler was left “in that unsafe state” and who left it in that state.

“Pending the outcome of the investigation, we could take enforcement action, which can actually go up to prosecution,” Campbell said, “There are several types of enforcement actions.”

He did not provide a timeline for how long the investigation will last, but said it does not need to be completed before the gas is turned back on; a TSSA licensed professional must come and repair the system.

The latest email sent to tenants from the landlord suggests the boiler will be repaired in two weeks.

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