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Montreal landlord accused of negligence, disrespect by tenants dealing with water leaks

Some tenants of an apartment building in Côte-Saint-Luc are speaking out about how management responded to a messy emergency.

As tenants dealt with water damage, the say they were just brushed off. One man was left with a hole in his bathroom wall that allowed people to look right in from the hallway.

“It’s very stressful and it’s bad. It’s emotional. I can’t sleep at night. It’s crazy,” tenant Joseph Detillo told Global News on Sunday. He lives at 5505 Cavendish, at the corner of Côte-Saint-Luc Road.

He says last Tuesday, water started coming out of his bathroom ceiling, and accumulating in bubbles that kept growing. He claims he called the concierge who said she’d send a plumber in the morning.

“The next morning I went to work, I came back and my ceiling collapsed,” said Detillo. “I called her. I say: ‘The water is still pouring,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh, I know. They have to order parts. It’s going to take a while.’”

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For days, he would dread the moment the person living above him would take a shower or flush their toilet, fearing more water coming from his ceiling.

“This is not clean, drinkable water. This is water that people use for showers and toilets. I feel so disgusted and violated,” he said.

His neighbour, who did not want to appear on camera, said she was having a problem. She showed Global News the water dripping from her ceiling on Sunday.

Detillo says Friday plumbers broke the wall open and fixed the pipes, but his problems were only just beginning.

He got home Friday night from a long day of work at an auto body shop, hoping he could relax.

“I came home around 7:30. I walked down the hallway, I saw it and immediately I flipped,” he recounted.

There was a hole in the bathroom wall, looking right into the hallway. Anyone walking through could get a glimpse of him and his son.

“I just want to go home, eat something, take a nice hot shower and start the weekend. Instead, I was in tears,” he said.

In more than 30 years of advocating for tenants, Arnold Bennett said he’d never heard of such a thing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one where there’s a hole in the wall in the corridor and people can see right into the guy’s bathroom. That’s new,” he told Global News.

Not knowing what to do, Detillo called the fire department, and he says firefighters showed up to take a look.

“They were shocked. They were they said that this is impossible,” he claims.

He says when the firefighters confronted the concierge, she covered the hole with garbage bags.

On Saturday morning, he says he called the building manager, whom he says responded with rudeness.

He says when the manager finally arrived, things got heated.

“I said, ‘what are you going to do about the wall? Are you going to put a piece of plywood here?’ He goes ‘no, I’m not putting a piece of plywood here. This is going to be for another week, and if you keep acting up, I’ll make it to two weeks.’” Detillo claims.

His neighbour told Global News the manager downplayed the water leakage in her bathroom as well, claiming he told her, “That’s nothing.”

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Arnold Bennett says in such situations it’s important to maintain proof of what happened and when. He recommends sending a registered letter to the landlord demanding a fix.

“That’s obviously urgent and necessary. You send the letter saying in 48 hours they need to do the work, or I’m going to have it done and hold you liable for the cost,” he explained.

Bennett said the Tribunal Administratif de Logement has the power to force the landlord to reimburse you for the work, or to force them to do repairs if the work needs to be done outside your unit.

“You can also go to the city and ask for them to send in an inspector. If it’s a serious problem, they could order the landlord to solve it or tell the landlord ‘you’re going to get fined,’” Bennett said.

Detillo informed the city of the situation and Côte Saint Luc sent an inspector on Monday.

After multiple requests for an interview with a manager, COGEIM, the company that manages the building, sent Global News an email statement.

“We are working diligently to solve the water situation in our building. We regret any inconvenience it could have caused, and are doing our best to limit the impacts on residents,” COGEIM said.

They did not respond to the allegations the tenants made about the building manager’s behaviour.

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