Two Ahuntsic-Cartierville apartment buildings with hundreds of violations are in such advanced states of disrepair and uncleanliness that about 20 tenants living in 12 units had to be removed last month for public safety reasons.
Come March 12, another 40 residents will be forced out.
Bedbugs, cockroaches, vermin, mould, leaking water, lack of heating, holes in ceilings and walls — the tenants of 11750 and 11760 Ranger Street have had a lot to contend with.
"It's horrible. There's rodents everywhere — every apartment probably has bugs in it ... There's a sub- basement, apparently, it's been flooded for the last six months," said tenant Eric Lane, who says he pays his rent in cash every month and has no lease.
Lane says he'd like to move out, but he can't afford to live anywhere else.
"My financial situation is in a bit of a downfall and this situation is perfect for me because the rent is cheap."
Many of the tenants living in the buildings are new immigrants who settled in the area near the intersection of Laurentian and Henri-Bourassa boulevards because of its low rents.
One long-time tenant told community newspaper Courrier Ahuntsic-Cartierville last month that the condition of the apartments really went downhill when the current owner, Guoji Shan, took possession in 2006.
Since then, the tenant said Shan has altered the apartments to create more rooms and thus, house more people — making for overcrowding.
Another tenant told CBC News that he fixed a missing pane of glass in one of his apartment's windows with cushions and blankets.
Owner says he'll renovate
CBC contacted Shan, who denied altering the apartments.
When asked about the mould and vermin, he said that's simply what happens to older buildings.
Shan said he's planning to carry out $600,000 in renovations by the end of the year.
"For sure the conditions are not good. That's why we're renovating," Shan said, adding that tenants who have been forced to leave can return by the year.
City councillor, Harout Chitilian, said the landlord has hundreds of violations against him and that hopefully not receiving tenants' rent cheques will propel him to make the necessary repairs to the buildings.
"The evacuation is quite an extreme measure because ... we also deprive the proprietor of the revenue and therefore we start hitting his wallet," Chitilian said.
He also said the local housing committee is helping tenants relocate.