A Parkdale apartment building is in such deplorable conditions that tenants had to evacuate to a nearby motel more than two weeks ago, and they’re not sure when or if they will ever be able to go back.
What’s complicating the situation is that they claim the landlord is not doing anything to help fix the problem.
Residents of 81 Wilson Park Road in the city’s west end say the city asked them to leave immediately after they realized the basement had flooding near major electrical outlets. Seven occupied units were evacuated.
They claim the landlord, Rakesh Gupta, co-owner of Gupta Realty Ltd., has failed to make basic repairs, showing Citynews photos of crumbling ceilings, and rodents running through the units.
CityNews has received several complaints from a viewer who lives in other properties owned by Gupta, saying they too are in similar conditions.
This video taken in 2016 was sent to CityNews by a viewer living in one of Gupta’s now sold properties at 34 Heydon Park Rd. It shows the terrible conditions of the building.
CityNews has reached out to Gupta and is waiting to hear back from the landlord. But a quick search into tenant rights’ websites, such as landlordwatch.com reveal two of the buildings Gupta owns or previously owned are on the ‘worst of’ offenders lists.
Mark Ruszo, a Hungarian refugee and one of the family members who is currently staying in a motel, says he paid $900 a month for a one bedroom and also worked as a caretaker in the building. He believes Gupta rents to low-income, immigrant families who may not understand their rights.
“These people just living there because we don’t have another place to live for the same price,” he says, adding Gupta has often told tenants it’s “not his problem” leaving tenants to fix issues themselves.
A spokesperson for the City of Toronto tells CityNews its role is to “enforce the bylaws, so they can issue an order to fix something and provide a timeline for that work to be completed,” but the onus is on the owner to comply adding, “If the owner does not comply with city-issued orders, the City can have its own contractors fix the issues and then add the charges to the property tax bill.”
Tenants can also check the website, RentSafeTO, which came into effect in 2017 to ensure that buildings are being kept up to minimum standards.
“I am hoping the building will be fixed and we can move back. I paid the rent and I am not living there right now,” says Ruszo.