Durham Region: ACORN Oshawa holds north end rally for tenants' rights

Oshawa ACORN

Posted August 28, 2017

An Oshawa organization that advocates for tenants’ rights and issues organized a rally on Monday in north Oshawa to bring attention to those issues.
Acorn Oshawa held a rally outside 1265 Pentland St. on Monday afternoon. There were about 10 people in attendance including one Pentland resident, Dillon Sawyer.
Sawyer said he has lived in the building about five years and he decided to join the protest because of hot water issues.
“It’s been going downhill for the longest time and there’s a hot water issue where people are getting extremely scalded in the showers because all of a sudden the cold water stops and then it goes to 100 per cent hot water and they’re well aware of it, it’s been going on for several months now,” he said. “And they keep shutting the water down and nothing gets done.”
Acorn Oshawa acting chapter leader Christeen Thornton said she believes that with a combined effort with community members, the organization can get landlords to do a better job.
“We are trying to demonstrate to the community one that we are organizing and that we are looking to tackle tenants’ issues here and two to let people know of course there’s some solidarity and that they are not alone,” she said. 
Thornton explained that Acorn Oshawa is also pushing for municipal licensing for all rental buildings. Currently, only an area surrounding Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology has a licensing bylaw. The City of Oshawa has initiated a pilot project at a limited number of buildings to test city-wide licensing.
The group marched from Pentland Street to the head office for the building owner, Valiant Rental Properties Limited, located at 177 Nonquon Rd.
The group attempted to access the building where the offices are located on the 20th floor, but were prevented from entering by security.
“We were going to occupy the office and present them with a list of demands and sit there until we spoke to somebody, but these things are always a bit tumultuous, but as it turned out they were closed, so our fall back plan was to put our letter of demands underneath the door but we were prevented from coming into the building by the security guard there,” said Thornton.
Eventually, Sawyer was allowed to enter to drop off the letter which stated that the organization was concerned about maintenance issues and requested a meeting.
Valiant Rental Properties Limited owns and manages 11 buildings in Oshawa which account for 1,217 units, said Erika Bradbury, vice-president of operations for the company, via email on Tuesday.
She said all of the buildings have a round-the-clock superintendent on duty and in order to address maintenance-related issues, tenants have to submit a service request if they become aware of a problem, and generally, units are inspected once per year.
“We process service requests every day at most of our buildings, including the two buildings on Pentland Street,” said Bradbury. “Non-emergency requests are processed within approximately two weeks, urgent repairs are assessed the same day, or at the very latest the following day.”
She said the company has carried out a number of repairs on the hot and cold water risers at 1265 Pentland St. in the past couple of moths and notice was given in advance unless it was an emergency. Bradbury said there are currently no major water-related issues at either of the Pentland buildings.
She said she would be available to meet with a representative from Acorn but has not yet been contacted to set a date and time.
“We have 887 units within walking distance from our head office,” Bradbury added. “The planned protest — of which tenants received individual, hand-delivered notices well in advance — contained approximately eight to 10 adults and two children. This in itself should be a testament to the quality of our operation.”
Thornton, on the other hand, was happy about the attention that was drawn to the issue of tenants’ rights.
“I think that definitely there were a lot of people aware of us, I noticed a lot of people coming out on their balconies and things and I think that that’s a good thing,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what Acorn Oshawa is and we definitely need to increase our visibility within the community so we can do things that we want to do here, which is essentially taking on bad landlords and really pushing that agenda of making them accountable.”
Currently, Acorn Oshawa has 11 dues-paying members and Thornton said two or three members live in Valiant buildings.
Article by Reka Szekely for Durham Region