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n early November, a group of tenants met in the back of a highrise apartment building at 103 West Lodge Ave. They gathered next to where a playground had been before it was torn down and replaced with a large dirt mound, which is still there today, surrounded by fencing and yellow caution tape. 

As tenants trickled into the meeting Paterson Hodgson, a tenant of West Lodge, welcomed them with a rallying call:

“We’re here because they’re trying to put a lot of pressure on us to push us out—all of the construction, all of the threats, sending eviction notices to our neighbours. And we’ve had enough.”

Tenants of 103 and 105 West Lodge stood next to a dirt pile surrounded by fencing and yellow caution tape on November 9, 2021. Photo by Shannon Carranco
Tenants of 103 and 105 West Lodge say construction has been ongoing inside and outside of the building. Photo taken in November, 2021 by Shannon Carranco

Tenants of the two 19-storey towers at 103 and 105 West Lodge Ave. had prepared a letter of demands to deliver to Hazelview Properties, who have owned and managed both buildings since 2018. Since then, according to tenants, the 732 unit buildings have been under near-constant construction, while in-unit repairs have largely gone unattended. In August tenants delivered about 100 work orders to Hazelview Properties management. Residents said that by November, most of these work orders still hadn’t been addressed. 

After discussing their strategy, about 30 West Lodge tenants made their way through the building to the main office, knocked on the door, and insisted that the building management come out into the main lobby to speak to them. 

After a long while Ronen Bachar, Hazelview’s regional manager of operations for the southern Greater Toronto Area, arrived and listened to one of the tenants read their list of demands over the sounds of drilling and sanding in the lobby. 

“We are Parkdale Tenants living at 103 and 105 West Lodge Avenue. We’re here to put Hazleview staff on notice,” the tenant read. “The mistreatment and harassment of West Lodge tenants will not be tolerated. You have sent threatening letters and eviction notices to our neighbours. While you refuse to provide tenants with adequate in-unit repairs, you have turned our buildings into a construction site to make cosmetic changes that will not benefit tenants in the building.”

Throughout the rest of the meeting, Bachar listened to tenants and, one by one, they told him their specific issues. One tenant, a student who lived on the first floor, said that her apartment had flooded twice but management still hadn’t dealt with it. Another tenant described bed bug and cockroach infestations. Bachar wrote down these grievances and promised to look into each issue. 

Tenants of West Lodge complained of mice, cockroach and bed big infestations in November, 2021. Photo by Shannon Carranco

Colleen Krempulec, the Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing and CSR at Hazelview Properties, said in an email to The Hoser  that “since taking over ownership of West Lodge, [Hazelview had] received and completed over 3000 maintenance requests...We are committed to continuing to repair and maintain residents’ units and that includes addressing pests.”

One of the main grievances tenants spoke of was the state of the common areas, like the hallways, elevators, and lobbies, all of which had been under construction for months. On many floors, Hazelview Properties had removed the carpeting to replace it with newer flooring. Tenants said they’d been living with exposed concrete that was dangerous for their children, their pets’ paws, and became dusty with the rest of the construction in the buildings. 

Hodgson said that their floor had been painted and then repainted twice over, assuming that the management didn’t like the previous paint jobs. On a tour through both buildings in November, most of the walls were either in the process of being sanded down or had blotches of white paint covering what looked like recent paint jobs. 

Tenants complained of the uncarpeted flooring throughout some of the hallways in the West Lodge Buildings. Photo taken in November, 2021 by Shannon Carranco
White paint splotches covered a newly painted wall in November, 2021. Photo by Shannon Carranco
Photo taken in November, 2021 by Shannon Carranco
Photo taken in November, 2021 by Shannon Carranco

Krempulec said that “Hazelview has invested approximately $20 million in improvements to the property, including critical heat and hot water infrastructure, fire and life safety systems, elevators, plumbing, and more.”

By February, Hodgson said some of the work orders had been addressed, but many hadn’t, and the construction in the buildings was still ongoing. 

“We’re just hoping no one gets evicted”

At the beginning of the pandemic, when tenants at West Lodge abruptly lost their employment or were put on leave, many decided to keep their rent in the hopes of reaching an agreement with Hazelview Properties for a possible rent-relief situation.

In November 2020, Hazelview Properties launched a rent-relief program called Hazelview Cares, where tenants could apply for up to one month of their current rent. But Hodgson said only those who were not behind on rent and could prove that they had steady employment could apply.  

Hodgson said tenants of West Lodge tried to speak to management for a year-and-a-half about receiving some kind of rent relief. When Hazelview management finally spoke to them, they opted not to come to an agreement with tenants. 

“Essentially all we were asking for was to be treated the same,” Hodgson said. 

Some tenants who hadn’t paid their rent were issued N8 eviction notices. In December, Hazelview Properties attempted to bring tenants with N8 forms before the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) because they claimed that these tenants were late on their rent. The claim was dismissed by the LTB, Hodgson said, because the tenants were not late on rent, they hadn’t paid it all. 

Several tenants were given N4 forms, which is another eviction notice for those who haven't paid their rent. This Thursday West Lodge tenants are going to be seen by the LTB. Tenants must attend the hearing with the landlord, and the LTB will decide whether they will be evicted or not. If the LTB grants an eviction, a sheriff can come to their door and remove them from the property.

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Posted 
Feb 16, 2022
 in 
Local News
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