Mould, bedbugs and cockroaches plague tenants of St. Laurent apartments
Published Monday, June 30, 2014 6:45PM EDT
Residents of a number of St. Laurent borough apartment buildings have been complaining of cockroaches, mice, mould, bedbugs, among other problems, for two years now.
There are 1,500 affected units in total in the building on Crevier St.
And because the process is eating up a lot of city inspectors’ time, the borough had to hire three other inspectors just to handle the workload.
Those inspectors will ensure tenants and the city can prove their cases in court, if it comes to that.
The inspectors have already looked at 664 units and put up infraction notices on at least 38.
So far, the borough has passed on $30,000 in inspection fees to MetCap, the property management company that runs the building. Those fees haven’t been paid.
“Our city inspectors cover the entire territory of St. Laurent, and we noticed in the last year that those inspectors are spending an inordinate amount of time just on the MetCap properties,” said borough mayor Alan DeSousa.
Esperance Maniragha and her family live in one of the apartments and have been having problems with cockroaches.
Maniragha said when her sister and her young children come to visit, they worry the kids will put the cockroaches in their mouths.
They are moving out tomorrow, and she says they are ready to go.
“We call the person who responsible for this (apartment), and they say they would come and see, but they never come. But now we decide to leave this house,” she said.
DeSousa said since the building came under MetCap’s ownership 2012, it seems they laid off many of their on-site maintenance workers, and only bring people in sporadically to do work.
The president of MetCap, Brent Merrill says the company has and spent $4.5 million on the building and over $500,000 so far on pest control since taking over management in 2012.
He said some tenants refuse to allow the pest control company into their units.
Merrill also said he is trying to find a way to move garbage from inside the building to outside.
The chutes currently send garbage into an indoor dumpster, which MetCap wants to move outside, but needs city approval to do it.
And he addressed the charge that the company got rid of its on-site staff, saying they made the move because the superintendents were developing personal relationships with tenants, and the company opted instead to centralize the complaints and work order process. Merrill said they have a company that goes to the buildings regularly to carry out repairs and other work.
Asi Camara and her daughter came to Canada from Gambia several years ago and moved into the Crevier St. apartments.
Soon after, she says, she began finding cockroaches and bedbugs in her home.
When asked why she stays in a place that is obviously a health hazard to her and her 13-year-old daughter, she broke down.
“I work two jobs and I can barely afford my rent,” she said.