Hamilton tenants without running water for 8 weeks are stuck in a ‘terrible’ situation, councilman says
David Galvin has been without running water in his Hamilton home for 57 days.
He said he has not been able to shower there or properly clean his home since the water was turned off on December 28.
“I’m emotionally and physically drained from the stress,” Galvin told CBC Hamilton. “I can’t sleep. My bowels are all messed up.”
He has lost hope that the water will be turned on again anytime soon – for him or the other tenants who have lived there for years, he said.
But they have nowhere else to go, Galvin said. He pays just under $900 a month for his two-bedroom apartment and earns minimum wage as a security guard at a city sewage treatment plant — a job the 70-year-old doesn’t know if he’ll make much money from much longer.
“All the people in the building are sick, old and/or disabled,” Galvin said. “Almost everyone has a fixed income. None of us can afford to pay market rents.”
So you have no choice but to persevere, he said.
The landlord of 1083 Main St. E, a building in front of Gage Park, shut off water supplies when pipes burst after being exposed to cold air during renovations, according to the city.
Situation is unprecedented, city councilman says
A law enforcement officer issued an order a week later for the landlord to repair or replace the defective plumbing system by Jan. 24, the order said.
However, the landlord appealed against the injunction. And on Tuesday, the city’s Housing Standards Committee, made up of five members of the public, agreed to wait weeks for enforcement — a decision that shocked tenants and city councillors.
“The city has proven powerless at the moment,” Galvin said after the vote. “Landlords can be rude to tenants and deny them the most basic rights of their tenancy.”
The building was purchased by the company 1083 Main St Inc. for $10 million in June 2021, according to property records. Angela Smith, the paralegal representing the landlord, said she was awaiting direction from her client on whether to comment. She didn’t answer CBC Hamilton’s questions, including when the pipes would be fixed.
The fact that an apartment building was cut off from running water for almost two months is “unprecedented” and “terrible” in Hamilton, Coun. Nrinder Nann told the council on Wednesday. Nann represents station 3 where the building is located.
She confirmed with coworkers that pipes burst in several apartment buildings across the city – owned by other people and businesses – in the last week of December and that all but those at 1083 Main St E had been repaired.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that these residents have gone so long without access to water,” Nann said. “Residents are significantly compromised in terms of their quality of life and access to what should be freely available and readily available.”
count. Brad Clark (Station 9) said he was “stunned” and “incredibly disappointed” at how staff handled the situation.
“How can the city of Hamilton sit back and allow a landlord to refuse water to an entire apartment building for so long?” he said.
The landlord is not given a deadline for repairs
At Tuesday’s property standards hearing, Smith agreed to replace the pipes on behalf of the landlord, city spokeswoman Lauren Vastano told CBC Hamilton.
But Smith and city officials together urged the committee to delay setting a deadline or enforcing the order until after an upcoming Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) hearing, which “appeared appropriate,” committee member James Summers said in an interview .
The landlord previously filed an N13 motion to evict tenants for renovations, which will be heard on March 8, and it then takes an average of 60 days to get a decision, the Ontario tribunal said.
The landlord can’t give a timeline for repairing the lines until it knows if the tenants will still live there, said Summers, a local real estate agent. Seven out of 60 units are currently occupied and a work report submitted to the committee said they would all need to be vacant for the pipes to be replaced.
“I’m in no position to challenge [the] report how the job needs to be done,” Summers said.
The committee’s job is to consider what work needs to be done in the building, not the needs of tenants, Summers added.
The Property Standards Committee will meet again within 45 days to set a timeline for the repairs, City Rights Director Monica Ciriello told councilors on Wednesday. In the meantime, city officials will brief tenants on the process, ensure the landlord knows what accommodation tenants are looking for and ensure they are provided with drinking water.
As of Tuesday, the city had been providing tenants with water several times a week and giving away 512 jugs for about $12,000, said Vastano, the city’s spokesman. The landlord has now agreed to take on this responsibility.
Galvin said when he rations water, there’s enough for drinking, cooking and occasionally flushing the toilet.
When he needs a shower, he drives 15 minutes across town to a motel room paid for by the landlord.
But it’s a luxury Galvin doesn’t take for granted. None of his neighbors can easily do the trek themselves as they don’t have cars and most have turned down the offer and resorted to sponge baths or cold, makeshift showers.
“This is a public health emergency just waiting to happen,” Galvin said.
There is also concern among renters that if they leave their units for a motel, if the locks are replaced and they won’t be able to return, he said.
Next hearing in 45 days: staff
Wednesday, community. Cameron Kroetsch (District 2) pointed out that the city has the authority to hire a contractor to complete the repairs and then credit the cost against property taxes.
Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development, said the city could only do so after the contract expired. That hasn’t happened yet because the landlord has agreed to make the repairs, even though no schedule has been set.
The next hearing may not take place for another six weeks, which would bring the whole ordeal to 14 weeks, said a visibly frustrated Kroetsch. “And then we’re going to have one more polite conversation with the landlord and say to them, ‘Oh my gosh, would you go ahead and do that? People want some water.’
“There’s no reason why we should delay.”
City councilors have asked city officials to report on how bylaws, including public health, essential services and property standards, can be strengthened to protect tenants in the future.
Mayor Andrea Horwath said this situation is because the provincial government has not improved the rights of renters and landlords in years.
“We will be relying on staff to bring as comprehensive a package as possible to basically fill in the holes that the provincial government has left for communities,” Horwath told the council, “while tenants struggle to stay in a pretty housing market.” to remain housed destructive.”