London

Former tenant says landlord wanted $200 to move her out of allegedly abusive situation

A former tenant of a downtown London highrise says her landlord wanted $200 to move her out of an apartment she shared with an allegedly abusive roommate. 

Amelia Deger alleges former roommate 'would stand outside my door yelling, calling me names'

The City of London says it has opened an official investigation into allegations Centurion Properties, which owns this London apartment building is renting illegal windowless bedrooms. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

A former tenant of a downtown London highrise says her landlord wanted $200 to move her out of an apartment she shared with an allegedly abusive roommate. 

Fanshawe College student Amelia Deger said she ended her lease at the Marq in August after she alleges her living conditions got to the point where she couldn't tolerate it anymore. 

The 12-storey highrise at 75 Ann Street is owned by Centurion Property Associates and markets furnished apartments with private bedrooms and shared living space to student tenants. 

Tenant felt unsafe in her room

Amelia Deger says she lived at 75 Ann Street in one of its windowless apartments, which are illegal under the Ontario Building Code Act. (Submitted)

Deger said she rented a windowless bedroom for $635 a month and was assigned to roommates who owned cats. 

"I'm allergic to cats," she said. "They don't ask. They don't notify anyone that there's going to be an animal in the apartment."  

Deger said she was forced to keep the door to her bedroom closed and without a window for ventilation, the conditions often became uncomfortable. 

"I believe it's an extra $20 to have a window," she said.  "I was constantly overheating and I couldn't leave my door open because the cats would get in."

Deger took her concerns to management, who moved her into a bedroom with a window at the same rate, but things quickly soured after she alleges one of her new roommates started hurling abuse.  

"She would stand outside my door yelling," she said. "Calling me names. She threatened me." 

Deger said she told the building's management that she didn't feel safe in her room and that she wanted to move again, but the landlord wanted additional $200 to make it happen. 

Amelia Deger took this picture of the mess left behind by her roommate's cats in one of her apartments shared storage areas. (Amelia Deger/submitted)

"They told me I had to pay more money to move," she said. "When I threatened to get the City of London involved, they didn't question me at all. They were able to waive some of the fees."

Deger said after that, building management agreed find her a new room and drop the $200 fee, but the problem was it took a month to make it happen. 

"I ended up having to move in with my boyfriend's family for an entire month while they looked for a different unit," she said, noting her new bedroom ended up being in the apartment across the hall. 

Deger said she eventually applied to terminate her lease with Centurion Property Associates through the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board

Centurion Property Associates, which owns buildings in more than a dozen cities across four provinces, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CBC News.

'Discounted rental prices' 

This bedroom appears to have been converted from a den or storage area in the apartment. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

In a memorandum sent to tenants on Friday, the company said it was aware of the media coverage and told tenants that the windowless bedrooms "have been rented by Centurion and the building's two previous owners without incident or concern since the building was built in 2003."

"These units have been leased in full transparency – including discounted rental prices in order to accommodate the particularities of the various unit types." 

"At this time, Centurion has no indication of any safety-related matters or the need for Residents to relocate."

Heather Chapman, the Manager of Municipal Law Enforcement for the City of London, wrote in an email to CBC News that city officials have determined "there is no immanent risk to the inhabitants" of the windowless bedrooms. 

She notes that the building's original floor plans would have been submitted to and approved by city hall at the time of  construction and "the room that is now being utilized as an additional bedroom (in some of the units) was not a bedroom." 

"After the building was inspected and permit signed off, those rooms were converted (without a permit) to an added bedroom," she wrote. 

Centurion Property Associates now has until Oct. 16 to comply or file an appeal under the city's property standards by-law.

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca

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