Renters fed up with filthy conditions

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/08/15/renters-fed-up-with-filthy-conditions

Residents of a decrepit south-Ottawa housing complex — with mould, rodents, bedbugs, flooding, and overflowing garbage — are fed up with their landlord and they’re calling on the mayor to do something about their filthy living conditions.

“The city should be more concerned about this than us. I mean, these are not our laws,” said tenant Erica Marx, referring to city bylaws.

TransGlobe Property Management Services, based in Mississauga, owns the Heron Gate rental complexes along Baycrest Dr. and Sandalwood Dr.

According to spokesman Danny Roth, the company has made “repeated offers” to discuss issues of concern.

“Those invitations have gone without any response except for press conferences and public protests. It is clear that the organizers are more interested in demonstrations than dialogue,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Sun.

But Mayor Jim Watson is intervening and said he’s gone directly to TransGlobe’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Bolahood, for some answers.

“I offered to facilitate a meeting between the two (sides) because they don’t appear to be communicating with one another,” he said.

“I think the company got the message when the mayor of the city calls to complain … this is taking resources away from our taxpayers because we’re constantly having to go in there and address the number of serious complaints.”

Some complaints don’t even get filed.

Many tenants are new immigrants who don’t speak English fluently, said resident Abdullahi Ali Takar.

“They don’t know how the system works and they don’t know where to go for help,” he said.

And when they do try to voice their concerns, newcomers say they’re belittled by staff — which has one tenant livid.

“Their self-esteem must be affected by this,” said Natasha Heston.

“I hear people are being put down or insulted or ridiculed. This is very derogatory. This is not what Canada’s about.

TransGlobe is being sold, effective Sept. 1, Watson said, adding a meeting will take place next month with all sides present.

Until then, “I’ve directed our property standards people to be much more aggressive in dealing with the complaints that come from this address.”

@ottawasunkroche

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