Renovations to change 'demographics': wording error, says owner

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Renovictions to change “demographics”: wording error, says owner

A document addressed to investors mentions the desire to rent the apartments to a “new demographic of tenants”. The owner maintains that this wording was used in error.

The apartment building located at 1570 Lawrence Avenue West was purchased in February 2022 by the firm Pulis Investments.

Tenants at 1570 Lawrence Avenue West in north Toronto are worried about losing their homes after receiving eviction notices due to work in the building. The owner assures that the tenants will all be able to return to their apartment after the renovations.

Last February, the firm Pulis Investments acquired the 87-unit building for $33.7 million, according to an investment document that the tenants consulted online and of which Radio-Canada has got copy. The document details the owner's intentions for the building: To vacate all apartments and reposition the property by carrying out major renovations and improvements.

Pulis Investments intends to see housing prices rise from $1235 per month to over $2000 per month after renovations, again depending on the document in question.

These intentions are a source of concern for tenants. Some of them have lived at 1570 Lawrence Avenue West for more than a decade. This is the case of Sandeep Sarin, who has lived in the building for 14 years. For him, the owner's desire to change the demographics of the building is hurtful. Anyone would be shocked to be told they are not welcome [in their accommodation], he says.

Sandeep Sarin has lived in the building on Lawrence Street West for 14 years.

By email, the owner, Pulis Investments, argues that the wording was incorrectly and unfortunately carried over from a previous investment document associated with another building where student accommodation was converted into traditional multi-family apartments.

Mr. Sarin is one of those who received an N13 eviction notice. These are used when the owner wants to demolish the dwelling, make repairs to it or put it to another use. According to the notice, the tenant must vacate their apartment by August 31.

“I don't have a plan […] Rents are expensive and it is difficult to find accommodation.

—Sandeep Sarin, tenant of 1570 Lawrence Avenue West

Pulis Investments says it issued 12 N13 eviction notices to residents on the first floor of the building. Notices have only been provided to apartments where major work is required, in accordance with City-approved permits, to replace and repair plumbing and where the work itself cannot be carried out while the tenants live in the apartments, can we read in the email sent to Radio-Canada.

The firm maintains that the tenants affected will be able to resume their accommodation after the work without a rent increase. We don't have a history of "renovations," she says.

In Ontario, landlords are not obligated to provide new housing to temporarily evicted tenants by an N13 notice, according to Caryma Sa'd, a real estate lawyer. She explains that tenants are nevertheless entitled to receive financial compensation ranging from one to three months' rent.

Caryma Sa'd is a real estate lawyer in Toronto.

The tenants of 1570 Lawrence Avenue West have been united for several weeks in an attempt to have the N13 notices received by residents on the first floor withdrawn.

In a promotional brochure, Pulis Investments explains that the firm acquires underserved multi-family properties and immediately undertakes renovations to increase rents and property value.

The document investment targets 14 buildings in southern Ontario acquired by the firm in the past six years.

Pulis Investments says it only renovates units after tenants have vacated them for of their own free will.

It is a model that respects Ontario law. The rule is that when a tenant moves out, the landlord has the right to raise the rent [as he pleases], Sa'd explains.

The owner of 1570 Lawrence Avenue West says he is investing in his buildings, which were often built more than 40 years ago, to restore them to good condition. Our goal with any building is to provide our […] tenants with a good place to live, he argues.

However, for months, the change of owner has been a source of stress for the residents. We have no life. We're always thinking about what's going on [in the building],” Mr. Sarin said.

Sanjiv Patel, who has resided in the building since 2005, received a letter in May notifying him that he owed the landlord $133. The latter asked him to pay the amount as soon as possible, otherwise he would be ousted. Everything about that letter was wrong, argues Mr. Patel, who disputed the claim. The owner would then have retracted, saying that it was a mistake. The tenant does not believe a word of it. He believes it was a deliberate effort to induce him to leave the accommodation.

Pulis Investments argues that the error stems from incorrect information provided by the previous owner regarding a place parking. The problem was reportedly resolved following a phone call with the tenant.

Celeste Brown, whose family resides in the building, explains that the tenants all received a notice that they had to pay an additional $200 per month if they wanted to use a back-up air conditioning system since , according to the owner, it sinks and damages the building envelope. Once again, the owner would have backtracked in the face of protest from the tenants. Their response was that it was a mistake and they apologize, Ms. Brown said.

Pulis Investments says the letter was to be sent to another building owned by the firm.

Celeste Brown and his family have been tenants at 1570 Lawrence Avenue West for over 10 years.

In a presentation to brokerage firm Pinnacle Wealth Brokers made available online, Kyle Pulis, President and Founder of Pulis Investments, explains that his company is taking advantage of the gap between housing demand and supply, particularly through to the influx of immigrants.

[This gap] is generating and will continue to generate, especially in the Greater Toronto Area and in the markets that attract the majority of immigrants, a significant increase in housing prices, he argued during this presentation.

“I don't see any ethics. Their priority is profits. »

— Celeste Brown, tenant

The tenants interviewed do not think they can find another accommodation in the area at a similar price. They intend to challenge any rent increase proposed by the landlord.

Pulis Investments, for its part, supports working hard to complete its renovation projects without having to evict tenants. More than 30 apartments have been renovated in this way so far, according to the firm.

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