Some tenants in an apartment complex in the Town of Mount-Royal say they’re fed up with having minimal heat and say the cold weather snap has made it especially tough to live in their homes. The tenants said the building’s heat is controlled by the company that owns it.
These tenants said the apartments have been as low as 15 degrees Celsius over the past week, and have not been able to warm up with frigid temperatures outside.
Some have been forced to buy portable heaters at their own expense or stay with others, including Loretta Dufresne who said the conditions had forced her to stay with her sister.
“I feel like a bag lady. I’m going with bags with pajamas and toothpaste and different things. I can’t cook, I can’t stay home. I can’t take a shower. I’m dependent on other people, which I never did before in my whole life, ever,” she said. “I always look after myself and my responsibilities and my problems. I don’t look for trouble, but this trouble is just continuing. It’s not being resolved, day by day. I don’t know how long this is going to continue.”
The tenants said the landlord, S.E.C. 25 Brittany has not been responsive to their demands to increase the temperature.
In a statement sent to CTV Montreal on January 3rd, the landlord said it was aware of the situation and had been monitoring the situation for the past 72 hours.
“Unfortunately, one of the four furnaces broke down four days ago and the heating company was notified immediately," they said. "The manufacturer reopened for business this morning and the broken furnace was fixed at eight o'clock this morning. All furnaces are now operating at full capacity to provide more than suitable heating to all tenants" the statement read.
The company said they acquired the building in October and are in the process of investing $1.2 million into renovations, including the heating system.
The landlord also indicated that “the …record breaking cold of the past days combined with the holidays had unfortunately aggravated the situation for this building and many buildings in Montreal.”
Ted Wright, an attorney and co-ordinator of the Westmount Legal Clinic, said a landlord who failed to fix the heating could face serious fines if tenants brought him to court.
The Regie du Logement, Quebec's rental board, has mandated the standard housing temperature be kept at 21 degrees.
"The law says they have to have heating," said Wright. "That's safety, security and habitability of the dwelling, the landlord must make sure it's on. If it's not on, the tenants have to tell the landlord and the landlord has to do everything in its power to make sure it's on."
Wright said the steps landlords could have to legally take include calling as many plumbers as it takes to get the issue fixed or buying portable heaters out of pocket until fixes can be made.
In the case of an unresponsive landlord, Wright advised tenants to call 911.
"Then the the fire department will come in, they'll contact Hydro-Quebec, they'll contact Energir, and they'll do everything they can within the confines of the law to get things working," he said.
The landlord’s representative recently advised CTV Montreal that only a small portion of the 74 apartments in the building suffered from insufficient hearing.