Cornwall Ontario – Life, for many who live in Cornwall, can be tricky at times, but with winters like this one, everything gets harder. An unfortunate truth about our town is that where you live can be a large factor in this struggle. If you think about the condition of the average apartment when you compare the East and West end it seems as though the moment you enter into the lower East end of town, the condition of the apartments drops dramatically while the average price of the rent doesn’t seem to be representative of this dramatic change.
It almost seem as though these are two separate retail markets but they shouldn’t be judged by such a poor standard, especially under weather conditions like ours which can often lead to actual health and safety concerns for the respective East end tenants.
Through personal research, I have noticed a definite trend in the monthly rent prices and quality offered in the East and West ends of town. In the West end, on average the apartments available for rent tend to fluctuate from around $700 for no utilities or possibly basic coverage to around $900 for all utilities covered. Regardless of these prices, the conditions of these apartments are clearly on par with what you would expect from a renter’s point of view, clean water with good pressure, good insulation and construction, and to top it all off most of the apartments are readily serviced either by the landlord or by contractors employed by the landlord.
When eyes turn to the East end of town, the trend seems to have lowered respectively but the quality drops dramatically when compared to the standards set by the West end. The average price for a no utility apartment tends to be around $600 while an apartment with everything covered ranges from high $700 to low $800. These numbers show a slight decrease in the monthly rent price but when you take quality of these homes into consideration, the difference is shocking. The average apartment, even some on the higher price end, will often have inconsistent water pressure with rare cases having virtually none at all, clearly ineffective insulation if there even is any, as well as just generally poor construction. Often this includes a lack of insulation leading to burst pipes as well as often a lack of any form of weather seals on the doors and window seams. This, coupled with the typical baseboard heaters, can often lead to sub-zero temperatures inside even when the heaters are set unnecessarily high.
Given this clear lack of standards concerning health and safety of tenants, as well as the disproportionately set prices, it makes life in the East end of Cornwall even harder. It seems as though something should be done to either alleviate the added financial stress or enforce a higher standard of living conditions to ensure that tenants will always be able to properly care for themselves regardless of their financial conditions.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done to help tenants on a larger scale, but it is possible for individuals to take action by bringing these issues up with either their landlord or, if the landlord refuses to do anything about it, they can bring their case to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The LTB’s mandate is to provide information about the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and to help resolve disputes between most residential landlords and tenants in Ontario. One of the easiest ways to learn more about them is to simply look at their website if you have any questions or concerns of your own.
I contacted paralegal, James Moak, and he briefly gave his views on this matter.
“Landlords must maintain their property to a minimum standard as set by property standards. If they do not, the tenants have legal recourse to address this through the Landlord Tenants Board. What I find most often is that the expectations of the tenants are unrealistic, not to say that some complaints are not justified.”
Based on this new information, it seems safe to say that, although not all of the cases that would come out of the East end would pass if everybody started trying this approach, it is entirely possible for a large number of these cases to be taken seriously and maybe even completely resolved. This is good news to a large number of tenants in our area that may be struggling to stay warm in their homes or many who spend far more than they should on their heating and hydro bills because their home’s construction was so sub par that they are losing all the heat they are paying for.
As long as the issues you are experiencing are directly affecting your quality of life in a largely negative way, there is hope.
E.V. Hutcheon is a 2nd year St. Lawrence College Journalism Student. She has professionally edited a Polish history book and is hoping to see her dream and passion of writing into a career. Previously living Toronto, E.V. is now a proud Cornwall citizen. On her off time you can usually find her at home writing her latest book, or walking along the St Lawrence River.