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ACORN Oshawa rallies at north-end apartment building

ACORN Oshawa, a tenants rights group, recently held a rally at 1265 Pentland Drive to call on the owner of the building, Valiant Property Rentals Ltd., to address concerns of residents. ACORN Oshawa acting chapter leader Christeen Thornton and resident Dillon Sawyer were among the participants in the rally. (Photo by Dave Flaherty).

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

A recent tenant’s rally in the city’s north end culminated with a call to the police.

The rally, organized by the Oshawa chapter of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a tenant rights organization, began at the apartment complex located at 1265 Pentland Drive, which is owned by Valiant Rental Properties Limited.

A small group of activists held signs and tried to rally support for the cause with the help of a megaphone.

The group eventually made its way to 177 Nonquon Road, another Valiant-owned property which houses the company’s main office, with the intentions of occupying the office and delivering a letter detailing concerns from tenants.

However, when they arrived at the building, a security guard and the building manager informed them the office was closed and they would not be allowed in the building.

Eventually, members of the Durham Regional Police Service arrived and spoke with Christeen Thornton, acting chapter lead for ACORN Oshawa, who informed them of their intentions.

Dillon Sawyer, who lives at 1265 Pentland, was ultimately allowed to deliver the letter, which also requested a meeting with Valiant management and the group left without further incident.

Sawyer has lived at the Valiant-owned property for about five years.

He claims there are hot water issues in the building.

“All sudden it will get scalding hot in the shower and sometimes there is no hot water at all,” Sawyer says, adding the problems have been ongoing for a few months and he has spoken with other tenants facing similar issues.

Sawyer says he has contacted Valiant about the issue “probably four or five times” and it has never been rectified.

“They know about it,” he stated.

Thornton says the Oshawa chapter of ACORN was established to “tackle issues” faced by tenants across the city.

The chapter has 11 dues-paying members, three of whom live in Valiant-owned buildings, Thornton added.

“These buildings [owned by Valiant] have issues,” Thornton claims.

Erika Bradbury, vice-president of operations for Valiant, says units are inspected once a year unless a tenant submits a service request.

Without knowing the specific details, she said she could not speak directly about any complaints Sawyer may have. She confirmed maintenance has been performed on the hot and cold water risers in the building in the past few months. However, she says Valiant always posts notices letting tenants know when there may be water issues, unless it is an emergency.

Bradbury says there are no current water issues at 1265 Pentland that she is aware of.

Valiant owns and operates 11 apartment buildings, totalling approximately 1,200 units, throughout the city.

As reported earlier this year in the Oshawa Express, ACORN has called on the city to expand its Residential Rental Housing Licensing (RRHL) system.

The RRHL system is currently only employed in the areas of Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology north campuses.

The system requires landlords to maintain their premises in accordance with provincial fire, building and electrical codes along with adhering to city bylaws related to property standards and zoning.

Thornton says the concerns of her group are “extremely valid” and they hope to address regional council in the near future as she says the issues tenants face are not just in Oshawa.

To her, they are not just fighting a battle over tenant rights, but human rights.

“At the end of the day, what is the value of human life?” she asked.