The owner of an apartment tower dubbed one of the worst in the city by tenant advocates goes before a city panel Monday morning facing a list of property standards violations that is 15 pages long.
Carolyn Krebs, who also goes by Carolyn Goodman and Marian Linton, has appealed to the Toronto and East York Property Standards Panel for more time to implement the repairs at her 14-storey Dawes Road building.
That’s not sitting well with the building’s tenants.
Ryan Endoh became so fed up with the problems he saw in the building that he began canvassing his neighbors earlier this year. It was his report to the city that prompted inspectors to visit in September. That visit resulted in the 84 property standards complaints that Krebs currently faces.
“I was frustrated because during the pandemic, the hallways were filthy … and it’s obviously a health concern when your balconies are coming apart,” he said.
“The garbage, the refuse area was and it still is a complete mess. The landlord doesn’t have enough garbage containers and this is a huge building with … hundreds of tenants.”
Krebs is scheduled to appear before the property standards panel to explain why she should get a six-month reprieve before she has to start fixing the building’s 84 violations, which range from holes in common area walls to crumbling balconies and rodent infestations.
“Due to COVID, contractors, lack of supplies and the nature of the building’s tenants, items are slow to complete at times,” she wrote in her notice of appeal to the city.
It’s not clear what her reference to the tenants is about. CBC Toronto has left a message for Krebs, but has so far not received a reply.
Records uncovered by CBC Toronto in 2019 showed the Thornhill resident, her children and her companies owned at least half a dozen apartment buildings and a few other houses in Toronto. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered her to pay $60,000 in damages that year to a tenant with disabilities and his daughter after “a campaign” of abuse of harassment against them.
Geordie Dent, the executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, says the building “is a major problem.”
“We believe in this radical notion that a landlord actually ought to follow the law, and 500 Dawes Rd. is an example of a landlord that just doesn’t do that, and just never faces any consequence for it.”
City staff said in a statement to CBC Toronto that they’re taking “numerous steps to address long-standing property standards violations and bring 500 Dawes Road into compliance with city bylaws.”
City records show that in the past two years, all of the buildings in the neighborhood of Dawes Road and Victoria Park Avenue have been the subject of property standards complaints, but with most it’s no more than two or three.
In the same time period, 500 Dawes has received 137.
The most recent list of complaints refers only to problems in the common areas. But residents say the worst problems are inside their units.
“We have rats,” said Linda Hume, who has lived in the building for 24 years. “Never in my life have I had to deal with rats.”
She says building management has given tenants sticky pads to trap the rodents.
“So the rat’s not dead, and it’s up to us to get rid of it,” she told CBC Toronto.
“And they’ll run all over the apartment — three in the morning, I have rats crawling up my curtains in the bedroom. It’s horrifying.”
Hume said she’d like to leave. But like many of the tenants at 500 Dawes, she is receiving disability payments from the province, and according to Dent, units in the building tend to be cheaper than other apartments.
“Lots of people end up at 500 Dawes because the application process is pretty simple,” he said, “and so for some people that can’t find any place, it’s kind of their only option.”
That’s a sentiment that’s shared by Igor Dobri, who’s lived in the building for eight years.
“Because these people don’t have the financial means, maybe legal knowledge and support … they just move on, you know, and don’t fight it,” he said.
“There are people here with mental health issues, anxiety issues and things like that and they just don’t want to fight it.”
Dobric said he’s had nine floods in his unit since he moved in. And trying to get repairs done usually results in disrespectful exchanges with management, he said.
“It’s rough. There’s a lot of animosity between the tenants and the management,” he said.
One problem that most residents share seems to be pests.
Nikithea Abbott lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her four children, including a two-month-old.
“I just had to throw his bassinet out because it was infested with bedbugs,” she said.
“And now he’s sleeping in a playpen … but dealing with the cockroaches and the bedbugs walking up my walls, on my floors, no matter how much I clean it … it’s disgusting. It’s inhumane,” Abbott added.
“It’s not right how they’re living. No matter how much and how many times you put in reports, they still ignore it.”