Three people are battling with their landlord to get rent and damage deposits back after being forced out of their apartments in a River Heights building on New Year’s Eve.

The renters live in three apartments in a Grosvenor Avenue home and were shocked when pipes began exploding on Dec. 31.

Pipes burst

Pipes burst in this River Heights home on New Year's Eve, leaving chunks of pipe and dirty water everywhere. (Jillian Coubrough/CBC)

“A piece came up and smashed into the mirror here and broke the mirror,” said Charlie Kurtz, who rents an apartment in the house for his daughter. “She was sleeping and all of a sudden she heard this big bang like something exploded.”

A severe cold snap froze pipes, snapping them off in the building’s basement.

Then, a chain reaction occurred, snapping pipes, moving the boiler, forcing the foundation of the building up and causing explosions all over the building, the tenants said.

Chunks of cast iron flew by Kurtz’s daughter’s head, narrowly missing her.


A pipe exploded in this bathroom in a River Heights home, sending chunks of metal and debris into the air on New Year's Eve. (Jill Coubrough/CBC)

In other units, the walls have cracked and water has pooled on the floor.

“The floor’s sagging here, so the water has pooled,” said Karen Hall, a resident of the building for four years.

“The foundation, as you can see, has all exploded, and it’s moved the boiler three inches and snapped everything,” said tenant Michael Ross, adding liquid began pouring out of the radiators after it happened. “It was all frozen, and it was all coming out like bubbles.”

In addition to all the damage, the building’s heat and water has been off since it happened.

All three have had to find other places to live.

To make matters worse, the tenants said their landlord cashed their rent cheques for January.

“She’s not even offering our damage deposit at this point, which I’ve had to place another damage deposit on the new place,” said Hall. “There’s money going out already, and she’s saying eight to ten months before we’ll see any money coming back.”

CBC tried to contact the home’s owner in Arizona, but she hasn't returned calls. She would only say she disputes how the incident happened.

All three renters have filed claims with the province's Residential Tenancies Branch.