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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by

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Surprise eviction notices leave students homeless

KRISTA SHARPE

Kelsi Schliewinsky is a third year Early Childhood student who has been forced to leave her home on Autumn Glen Ave., across the street from Humber College.

An eviction notice was posted on Schliewinsky’s front door by the City of Toronto claiming her landlord may have violated a new city harmonized zoning bylaw.

According to Bylaw No. 1156- 2010, if students are renting rooms in a landlord’s home, it must be registered as a rooming house with the City of Toronto.

Schliewinsky and her roommates are renting on a per-room basis. Approximately 65 student houses are also being inspected.
Landlords are free to turn any part of a house into a bedroom. When they charge per room, a landlord’s income may increase.
The typical off-campus house close to Humber North has 12 rooms rented simultaneously: Three to six students live on the top level, up to two reside on the main floor, and three to four inhabit the basement.

Student evicted

A Guelph-Humber student sits outside her front door after receiving an eviction notice from the City of Toronto. Photo by Krista Sharpe.

Klaus Lehmann, City of Toronto Project Manager of the Zoning Bylaw project says, “A lot of people are [just] out to make a dollar.”

The City of Toronto often learns a house may be vio

lating the bylaw via neighbourhood tips, fire inspections, and knocking door-to-door. Once city inspectors have proof of a violation, the city can evict students, giving them only 120 days to evacuate their homes.

Lehmann says that once a house has been registered, fire regulations must be followed to ensure the building is properly equipped for a large amount of people.

Joe Azzopardi, Schliewinsky’s landlord, was visited by inspectors and told to upgrade his fire regulations because of the number of people in his home.

Azzopardi says he made the changes right away and is confused as to why he is still being targeted.

However, that’s not the biggest issue. Rooming houses are only permitted in designated areas, none of which are surrounding Humber College North Campus.

“Technically, Humber College [would be] responsible  for changing the bylaw so that housing in the area could [contain] rooming houses,” says Azzopardi.

John Davies, Humber College President, was not aware of the eviction problem before speaking with the Radix. Yet, he says he’s not surprised and thinks “the city is doing a good thing.”

Although it is cost effective for students to live off campus, Davies says many landlords in the area are pushing their limits and Humber College does not want to be a part of it.

However, Azzopardi says the house inspector told him, “Humber College doesn’t really care about the students because it is the one that [has] to make changes to the rooming law and the boundaries.”

Davies says Humber is not in the business to buy private property. “It’s not in the college’s interest; it’s not in the neighbourhood’s interest.”

Davies explains Humber has a close relationship with the immediate neighbourhood and a respect for families living in the area. “Our job is to live in harmony with those neighbours. I don’t think they would thank us for launching a campaign to have rooming houses.”

Davies also mentions there has been talk about building more residences at Humber’s Lakeshore campus, although there have been issues regarding space.

North campus residence buildings, however, are not at full capacity because it is mainly a commuter campus, Davies says. Nonetheless, signs have been posted around campus advertising empty space.

Some students choose not to live in residence because they want the freedom and responsibility living in their own houses can give.

Student eviction

A Guelph-Humber student sits outside near the steet after receiving an eviction notice from the City of Toronto. Photo by Krista Sharpe.

As for students still looking for houses to live in next year, Azzopardi was told by the city that more homes will be investigated in September. Sixty-five houses around Humber North are currently being evicted.

Lehmann advises students to call the by-law off before moving into a house. This will ensure their landlords are following the regulations.

The new law also states the owner’s principal residence must be the building in which the rooming house is located.
Azzopardi, was told by the city that the new law also states the owner’s principal residence must be the building in which the rooming house is located.

“Our landlord wants three of us to stay in the house and then it’ll just look like he lives there,” Schliewinsky says.
However, if Schlieiwinsky and her roommates choose to stay with their landlord, they would still have a place to live and Azzopardi would still have an income.

Schliewinsky says she doesn’t approve of her landlord’s actions and can’t picture living in the same house again, unless it is her last resort. “I don’t know what I’m doing next year but I’m trying not to think about it because…it’s exam [time] and I just don’t have the room for extra stress.”

Azzopardi says he is not sure what else he can do. “I’m just gonna wait until [the City of Toronto] takes me to court.”
Schliewinsky says she doesn’t know what she is going to do, either. “I could kind of be screwed.”


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