Toronto.com: Scarborough tenants accuse Denton Avenue building staff of harassment

Toronto ACORN 30 Denton

Posted March 15, 2018

Jeffrey Stern is fed up with the “hostile environment” he alleges management staff creates within his Scarborough apartment building.
 
“They’ve started this war between tenants and staff,” he said. “This is our home. We should feel comfortable there.”
 
Stern, who’s lived at 30 Denton Ave. for a decade, demonstrated outside of his landlord’s downtown office Tuesday with members of Toronto ACORN, a community action group and tenant advocacy organization for low- and moderate-income families, which organized the protest.
 
The alleged harassment stems from a rally held outside the building last summer, where about 60 tenants said they were living in poor conditions and claimed their landlord, Realstar Management, wasn’t doing anything about it.
 
Mohammed Rokonuzzaman, who wasn’t present at Tuesday’s rally but spoke over the phone, said he’s moving out for several reasons, including the “pressure” he received from staff.
 
“After that demonstration, we were targeted,” he said. “They are taking the opportunity to harass.”
 
Stern was threatened with eviction and said other tenants have been threatened as well.
 
“They’re handing these out like candy at Halloween,” he said while holding a sign that read, “Realstar, stop harassing tenants.”
 
The rally caught Mark Hales, senior vice president of construction and property standards at Realstar, by surprise.
 
He said the company has tried to better its relationship with the tenants and has invested millions to improve the building.
 
“We’ve taken time and effort and encouraged residents … to reach out to us and talk about any concerns,” Hales said. “We manage thousands of apartments across the country and we’re very proud to do so.”
 
He added he couldn’t comment on individual evictions due to “privacy legislation,” but said the company is careful when determining residents’ fates.
 
“We do care about them,” he said. “And it’s rare, but when the rules under the Residential Tenancy Act are repeatedly not complied with, we do take action.”
 
Mike Smith, who has lived in the building for three years, said staff members are doing a good job.
 
“They (staff) are fed up because they (tenants) treat them like their servants," he said.
 
Stern wants building employees' attitudes to change.
 
“I’ve never felt such hatred,” he said. “They’ve just built this wall. It’s like us against them.”
 
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Article by Aaron D'Andrea for Toronto.com