'It was terrifying': Former tenants of west-end Toronto apartment building permanently vacate after whirlwind week
Residents of 1407-1409 Bloor Street West were given 24 hours notice to vacate their units after the City of Toronto deemed the building unsafe. (CTV News/Saron Fanel)
Published Monday, March 15, 2021 9:18PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 15, 2021 9:33PM EDT
The property manager of rental units located on Bloor Street West says he is "surprised" by the City of Toronto’s notice telling tenants to vacate his building by Friday at midnight.
Over the past few days, residents of 1407-1409 Bloor Street West were left scrambling to find a home after they were told to vacate their units within hours as it was deemed unsafe by city officials.
Earlier last week, emergency crews were called twice to the building due to the detection of high levels of carbon monoxide. Subsequently, the city found that the four units located on the second floor of the property managed by Brad J. Lamb Realty were built without a permit.
“Much to our surprise, the City of Toronto issued a notice to vacate the premises by Friday, March 12 at 12 midnight, giving our tenants less than 30 hours to leave their units,” property manager Brad J. Lamb told CTV News Toronto in an e-mailed statement.
On Monday morning, former tenant Gina Shkeda was moving out the last of her things while she still had access.
“It’s just been so last minute because they didn’t even give us a week or anything to move our stuff. 24-hours is very short,” she said.
The Vancouver-native hired movers to help haul her stuff into a new apartment. She signed a new lease within hours of being evicted.
Tenants say the only carbon monoxide detector that went off that night was the one neighbours Miles Gertler and his partner installed — not the ones provided by the landlord.
“Once I realized what the actual problem was…it was terrifying,” Shkeda said.
The City of Toronto found more problems. The apartments are above an auto repair shop, which is not allowed. There aren’t enough fire exits and the building was constructed without a permit, meaning they were never allowed to be rented for residential use in the first place.
Tenants have been advocating for relocation costs to be reimbursed.
“On Friday morning, we issued a rebate of all prepaid rent and balances of March rent to the tenants. The balances varied from $2,140 (for a tenant previously scheduled to move out) to $8,278. This allowed the tenants to have access to funds immediately,” Lamb said.
“Today, we notified the tenants of our intention to reimburse any and all reasonable expenses related to this terrible situation,” the e-mail said.
The City of Toronto told CTV News Toronto that it sympathizes with the tenants and is working with them to find accommodations.
“The city understands how challenging it can be for tenants to be asked to leave their homes in such a short period of time and truly sympathizes with these tenants. However, given the serious life safety issues at this location, it was imperative that the residents not remain there,” said Will Johnston, a chief building official and executive director with the City of Toronto.
"The city is also undertaking a number of steps to support tenants facing eviction and more importantly to help stop evictions, as much as possible, in the first place. C-O detectors are mandatory if your home has fuel-powered appliances."
Toronto Fire Services' Marla Friebe said the law requires people to have a carbon monoxide detector in their homes and in their sleeping quarters.
"If your bedrooms are all upstairs, install that alarm on the second floor,” said Friebe, the acting division chief of public education and professional standards.
Friebe recommends having an exit plan in place in case your device is triggered.
Meanwhile, Shkeda said she has scrambled to sign a new lease.
“I’m just ready to not be here anymore, to be in a new spot and not think about,” she said.
The other tenants said they too are still looking for permanent accommodations.
With files from CP24’s Bryann Aguilar