London

London landlord ordered to draft plan to fix illegal bedrooms

Centurion Property Management, the landlord who owns the troubled highrise at 75 Ann Street, has been given two months to submit plans for how it plans to fix an unknown number of illegal bedrooms inside its apartment building at 75 Ann Street in downtown London.

Centurion Property Management has until Feb 3 to offer solution to illegal, windowless bedrooms

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

The owner of a troubled downtown London highrise has been ordered to come up with a plan to address an unknown number of illegal units inside an apartment building at 75 Ann Street.

Centurion Property Management was served with an order from the City of London in September after it was discovered the corporate landlord was renting bedrooms without windows, following a complaint from the public. 

Under London's Property Standards By-law and the Ontario Building Code Act, living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms are all legally required to have windows in order to be considered fit for human habitation. 

Centurion filed an appeal, seeking an extension on the work order from the city's Property Standards Committee, which the city granted on Monday. 

Landlord must provide natural light

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

It means Centurion Property Management now has until February 3, 2020 to submit plans for how it intends to bring the building up to code. 

"They need to provide natural light in a bedroom and these bedrooms don't have windows currently," said Heather Chapman, the city's manager of by-law enforcement. 

"The property owner must comply with the property standards work order insofar as correcting the deficiencies. They will have to come forward with options to comply with this," she said. 

What exactly those 'options' are remains to be seen, but Chapman said the easiest and most obvious solution is simply getting rid of the bedrooms.

Landlord could 'eliminate' illegal rooms

Chantale Pard sits in her windowless bedroom at 75 Ann Street in October 2019. She said she was paying almost $700 a month for a unit with no windows or ventilation. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

"They could eliminate that as a bedroom," she said, noting that if the company wants to keep them, they'll have to submit the new floor plan to city hall before they can make it happen. 

"They will have to present those through a building permit if it is something physical they're going to do within the building other than eliminating that space as a bedroom." 

Chapman said Centurion must submit the plans by February 3, and will meet again with the city's property standards committee to go over revisions on March 9. 

For Chantale Pard, the Western University PhD student who launched the original complaint about sleeping in a "windowless, closetless box" at 75 Ann Street, the news comes with mixed emotion. 

"I think it's great that the city is finally taking action. It's sad that it took that long, but I guess paperwork takes a while," she said. 

Pard also hopes that the final decision doesn't put any 75 Ann Street tenants in the awkward position of trying to find a home at the last minute. 

"I really hope the city comes up with a plan for where the people who live in these bedrooms are going to live when these renovations happen," she said.

"I hope someone is going to be taking responsibility for this and it's not going to be on those students to find a new place out of the blue." 

Jeremy Roberts, the head of the 75 Ann Street Residents Association, said he'll be working with other tenants to make sure such a situation doesn't happen and that the interests of fairness and justice are met. 

"We'll use all options available to us under Ontario law that tenants' rights are respected and we'll work with Centurion if they want us to, to make sure nobody ends up living somewhere they don't want to live," he said. 

In a message to tenants, Centurion Properties described the city order to draft a plan as being "awarded" an extension on "a program." 

The company said the renovations would likely take place in the summer of 2020 after it met again with city officials in March.

"Centurion has no indication of any safety-related matters or the need for residents to relocate," the company wrote. 

Centurion Property Management did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News. 

with files from Amanda Margison

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