One of the tenants forced out of his apartment at 4840 Bourret Ave. by major renovations done by the landlord, apparently to convert the apartment building into condominiums, spoke up again at the Dec. 9 borough council meeting.
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“What will you do to make sure that this does not happen again to anyone, and how can we stop the conversion of reasonably priced housing units into pricey condominiums?” politely asked Kurt Ross, addressing borough mayor Russell Copeman.
The question was deferred to the local councillor for Snowdon, Marvin Rotrand, who said that there were also complaints about another building apparently owned by the same landlord.
Rotrand said that the important question in the long run is about the conservation of rental housing. It is illegal to convert an apartment building into condominiums in CDN-NDG, but certain landlords appear to be either inciting or forcing tenants to leave in order to do the conversion.
The other question concerns the safety of tenants. “In this case we had to send in an inspector and stop work in one of the buildings right away, and in the other building there was an agreement reached,” said Rotrand. A landlord’s permit to do renovations doesn’t override the rental board and its rulings and it does not allow the owner to go further than the rules allow.
Daniel Lafond, director of urban planning and business services, said they had to stop the work and relocate the five families still living in the apartments. “There is one more tenant and we are keeping an eye open for his safety, making sure he has heating in his apartment,” said Lafond.
Russell Copeman, who is responsible for housing, urban planning and real estate, said that the borough will apply the law as rigorously and vigorously as possible.
A Project Genesis volunteer, Candy Barnes, was next on this issue at the mic. She said that inspectors come only once, and that landlords don’t always respect the rights of tenants. “You promised to put in more inspectors to look into the problems of the tenants. When do you think you’ll be able to add more?” she asked.
Copeman said that the need for more inspectors is debatable. According to the services, follow-up visits and preventive inspections are made, and they also rely on tenants to signal whether the work has been performed or not.
The mayor promised to look at strategies to improve the situation, like adding new inspectors or increasing fines.
He also said there will be a public information session on the budget on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Cummings Centre, 5151 Côte-Sainte-Catherine Rd.
“I would urge people to come and express themselves at that time and we’ll see what can be done.»
Darlington district councillor Lionel Perez added that the services would take a close look at any specific problems tenants may have.