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Montreal slow to fine ‘slumlord’

Officials worry fines will hamper the sale of building to a non-profit group

CBC News

Posted: Aug 16, 2010 2:08 PM ET
Last Updated: Aug 16, 2010 1:58 PM ET

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City acts against slumlord

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City inspectors have detected 371 public health violations at this apartment building in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood. ((CBC))The city of Montreal is reluctant to fine the owner of an apartment building where inspectors have detected 371 public health violations.

The building, located at 6950 Côte-des-Neiges Road, in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, has a broken elevator and is infected with cockroaches.

Karen Conner, who has lived in the building for three years, said the landlord fumigated on Aug. 9 and there are now fewer cockroaches, but the problem hasn’t disappeared.

« I still feel some bites, » said Conner.

« I killed a big one this morning. I could feel something crawling under my shirt, » she added.

Conner also said the hallway floors are concrete topped with black industrial glue, because the landlord ripped them up in January and never replaced them.

« It’s like you are walking on a tar pit garbage, » said Conner.

‘It’s a balancing act’: City

The city has sent inspectors to the building 11 times since May.

Michael Applebaum, the city’s executive committee member responsible for housing and the mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges/NDG borough, said the city does plan on fining the owner of the building eventually.

Applebaum has described Sebag as a slumlord with a reputation of being among the worst in the city.

But the borough mayor said the city does not want to jeopardize the eventual sale of the building to a non-profit group that wants to turn it into social housing.

« It’s a balancing act to make sure that they can purchase it at a fair price, » said Applebaum.

« If we are increasing the fines, then the owner can sometimes become more difficult to negotiate with, » he said. Tenants say they had no hot water in June. ((CBC))

The city is now worried the landlord may try to add the cost of the fines to the building sale price.

The non-profit group, Groupe CDH, is still in negotiations with the landlord, Robert Sebag.

Sebag declined to comment.

This is not the first time a building owned by Sebag has been the subject of public health infractions.

In December 2009, the city ordered Sebag to hire an exterminator and remove asbestos at two vermin-infested buildings on Vézina St.

Groupe CDH bought those buildings and is now renovating them.

In 2008, Sebag was persuaded to sell eight run-down buildings on Christophe-Colomb Avenue in the city’s Villeray district after he was issued 157 notices by city officials.

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Montreal slow to fine 'slumlord' – Montreal – CBC News