Landlord selling 3 run-down rental properties on The Ridgeway
Tenants' complaints triggered a CBC News story about 3 Ridgeway houses in April
Two run-down rental houses on The Ridgeway are now up for sale, with owner David Russell saying he can no longer have the liability of owning the dilapidated properties.
"It's just too much for me to deal with right now," said Russell, who operates The Apartment Shoppe rental agency. "It's better for me to step back and let someone else take this on."
Last week Russell put on the market three adjacent properties he owns on The Ridgeway: No. 22, No. 24 and No. 26. The houses at Nos. 22 and 26 were once grand century-old homes that have since been divided up into small rental apartments. The house at No. 24 was damaged by a fire in November 2010 and never rebuilt.
Inside and out, the properties are in a sorry state of disrepair. A beam supporting the roof over the front porch at No. 22 is rotten and splintered. There are shingles missing from the roof at No. 26, where tenants have complained about leaky roofs, frozen pipes and a rash of other problems due to lapsed maintenance.
On April 10, firefighters were called to No. 22 after a carbon monoxide alarm was activated. Citing safety concerns, the Technical Standards Safety Authority ordered the furnace to be shut off until it was either repaired or replaced.
Furnace won't be replaced
Russell said Tuesday he has no plans to replace or repair the furnace, saying it's likely the next owner of the houses will demolish or extensively renovate them before fall arrives.
"I have space heaters and no tenant has complained about being cold," he said.
But tenants of No. 22 The Ridgeway told CBC News they aren't sure where the impending sale leaves them and they have been pushing for repairs.
I've had such stress and anxiety over this- Danica Criss, tenant
Danica Criss and her partner live in one of the nine units at No. 22. They've been living with space heaters in their unit — which Russell supplied — since the furnace was flagged for repair in April.
"I'm really angry," Criss told CBC News. "He should fix the things in here regardless of whether he's selling it or not. He's required to have things running that should be running and they're not. Fix them."
Uncertain future for tenants
The one-room apartment Criss shares with her partner rents for $695 a month. She's not confident they'll be able to find anything in that price range if they're forced to move.
Criss said tenants weren't told about the impending sale, and only found out when the real estate signs went up last week. She has no idea what will happen to them once the properties sell. Both Criss and her partner are on the Ontario Disability Support Program and moved into No. 22 from the Unity Project, a local shelter that provides relief for the city's homeless.
"What's happening here just isn't right," she said.
Russell had an application filed with city's planning department to completely renovate the houses at No. 22 and No. 26 and tie them together into a 35-unit rental complex. His stated plan was to preserve the heritage features of both buildings and make them compliant with current building codes.
On Tuesday, Russell said he's facing barriers at city hall to his plan, another factor he says went into his decision to sell all three properties.
Russell said the three adjacent lots may be an attractive purchase for a developer with the resources to build a multi-storey residential building on the site. The Ridgeway is located west of the downtown core and just south of the forks of the Thames River. The three properties for sale back onto the river's floodplain
Russell said he feels for the tenants and says that it was his intention to help find them new places to live if his renovation plans went ahead.
The following information is listed about the properties in online real estate ads:
- No. 22 The Ridgeway List price: $699,900. The ad states the building is being sold in an as-is condition and that the building "now has no heating system and many immediate repairs needed."
- No. 24 The Ridgeway List price: $550,000. The listing describes the property as having a small rented duplex and a workshop. The main house on the property was destroyed in fire in 2010.
- No. 26 The Ridgeway $650,000. The ad says: "This property is operating currently as six units ... the interior/exterior need extensive work."
Orest Katolyk, the city's head bylaw inspector, said in April the city had "active files" about the two houses.