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Heatless in Orillia: Tenants have been without heat for months

'My bedroom’s freezing. When I put my clothes on, I mean, it's like going into the freezer,' says resident frustrated over not having working furnaces for months
Residents at 85 Barrie Rd. say dozens of tenants have gone without functioning furnaces for months.

Dozens of tenants at a Barrie Road apartment building have been without functioning furnaces for several months.

The 85 Barrie Rd. building, managed by Villasola Residential Condominiums, began experiencing issues with tenants’ furnaces in June. The furnaces are located in each unit throughout the multi-storey building.

With winter approaching, residents say their units are beginning to get cold, and they are frustrated no resolution has resulted despite their numerous attempts to have the landlord rectify the situation.

Five residents spoke with OrilliaMatters on the condition of anonymity as they fear repercussions.

“We started asking a couple of months ago when it’s going to be (fixed) because we started to feel it a little bit when the leaves started (changing),” said one resident. “We started asking and we thought they’d be done by now.

“My bedroom’s freezing. When I put my clothes on, I mean, it’s like going into the freezer.”

A couple of the residents have purchased space heaters in the meantime, they said, with one using an oven to generate heat.

According to the Landlord and Tenant Board, if a landlord provides heat, it must be kept at a minimum of 20 degrees Celsius between Sept. 1 and June 15.

The city recently stepped in to ensure the situation is addressed promptly, said Shawn Crawford, the city’s manager of legislative services.

“A property standards officer has issued an ‘order to remedy’ to the property owner pursuant to the city’s property standards bylaw as there are several furnaces in the building that are not in working order,” Crawford told OrilliaMatters.

That bylaw, he explained, notes “every building containing an occupied dwelling unit or habitable room shall be provided with suitable heating facilities capable of maintaining an indoor ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius between the first day of September of each year and the 15th day of June of the following year.  A heating system shall be maintained in good working condition so as to be capable of safely heating the dwelling unit or habitable room to the required standard.”

The deadline for compliance is Monday (Nov. 28), Crawford said, adding an officer will conduct a re-inspection after that date to determine whether the order has been complied with.

It’s been a frustrating situation for tenants, who say, despite lacking operational furnaces, they have been charged for heating in the interim.

“We’ve been charged because we’re on equal billing, so we’re being charged every month,” one tenant said.

Having lived at the apartment for between two and 10 years, the residents said they have experienced numerous issues in the building.

“(When) I moved upstairs … I went at least two months or more without any hot water,” lamented one resident.

The residents said management has informed them the situation will be resolved this week.

The neighbouring complex at 75 Barrie Rd. has been experiencing issues with its furnaces as well, the residents said.

Serenity Residential Corporation, owners of the two apartment buildings on Barrie Road and a third being constructed, did not respond to phone or email requests for comment.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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