Tenants without hot water for two weeks

On January 12th, the tenants at 410 Strickland lost their hot water. It was not repaired for 13 days, said Sue, who asked to remain anonymous…

On January 12th, the tenants at 410 Strickland lost their hot water.

It was not repaired for 13 days, said Sue, who asked to remain anonymous because she feared eviction.

The building has 29 apartments.

Several are occupied by tenants who have various disabilities.

“There is one man in a wheelchair and another who is on oxygen 24/7,” said Sue.

“How are they expected to boil pots of water for a sponge bath?”

After seven days without hot water, Sue organized a petition.

It was signed by 18 tenants.

“I phoned the law society, environmental health, and consumer and corporate affairs,” she said.

The law society recommended the petition.

“I knew in the Yukon tenants have no rights,” said Sue, who moved to the territory several years ago.

“But I didn’t know it was this bad.”

As soon as the hot water went off, Sue and several other tenants called the landlords, Singh Nirpinder Dhillon and Kaur Daljeet Dhillon.

The Dhillons own rental properties in Hillcrest and the Family Hotel.

“They came and put up signs saying there would be hot water that evening — but it didn’t happen,” said Sue.

The building is dirty, the carpets are damp and huge sections of ceiling are missing in the hallways.

“It has been like this for months,” said Sue.

“Usually there are buckets lining the hallways to catch the drips from the pipes.”

One tenant, who wrote a letter to accompany the petition said: “Our hallways have been ripped apart in the ceilings, with dirty buckets to catch sometimes slow drips, sometimes fast dripping that has been occurring over and over for the past five months.

“The carpets are filthy, wet and molding and most likely a health hazard.”

Becky Kraushaar lives in a small one-room apartment beside the front door.

Because the building doesn’t have a buzzer system, she frequently gets strangers knocking on her window.

The window was hanging on one hinge when she moved in.

When Kraushaar asked the Dhillons to repair it, she was told it wasn’t the landlords’ responsibility.

Not long after that, her apartment was robbed. The thieves came in through the window.

After two months, her window was finally fixed, but it still doesn’t close.

Last week, during the cold snap, frost was growing up the inside of the pane and daylight was visible around the window frame.

Kraushaar pays $690 a month.

Over the past 18 months, she’s been flooded twice.

Water pours in from upstairs, she said.

A third flood filled the downstairs hallway.

During one of the floods, Kraushaar’s bathroom ceiling fell into her tub.

It took a couple of weeks to get it repaired.

“I still don’t take long showers because I’m afraid the steam will make it fall again,” she said.

Kraushaar got carpet to cover the “black, green, grey, and blue moulding stuff that is so old it fell apart” in her hands.

“I was spending days mopping gross water with towels.”

Her oven was also inoperable for two months.

It was fixed four days before Christmas, she said.

Kraushaar was afraid she’d be evicted for speaking out.

“But we’re tired of being treated like shit,” said Sue, who holds down a fulltime job.

Without hot water, Sue was forced to shower at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.

“I used wet wipes, and stayed at a friend’s one night,” she said.

“And whenever I did the dishes, I had to boil water.”

Sue, who pays $750 a month for a one-bedroom apartment upstairs, has not had to deal with the flooding on the lower floors.

The hot water was only out for a few days, said Singh Dhillon on Tuesday.

“We tried to get them fixed, but it took a few days to get the parts.”

Dhillon did not know about the petition with 18 signatures.

“It is just a couple of people, mostly druggies, trying to cause trouble,” he said when he heard about it.

“The hot water tanks went down on the Thursday (January 11th) and were fixed by Monday or Tuesday — ask Kurt, my plumber,” he said.

Kurt Moritz, who’s worked for the Dhillons for 15 years, told a different story.

He didn’t deny the hot-water problem persisted for 13 days.

“We live in an area where it’s hard to get parts,” he said.

Two of the three 454-litre hot water tanks that supply 410 Strickland broke at the same time, said Moritz.

The building is at least 30 years old and the tanks are probably as old as the building, he said.

Moritz was busy, so the Dhillons contacted another plumber.

He got new elements for the two broken tanks; the parts arrived Tuesday or Wednesday. But when the plumber replaced the elements, the tanks were so old the interiors crumbled.

“It took us awhile until we realized what was going on, with the new elements not working,” said Moritz.

The only 454-litre tank in town costs about $4,000, he added.

It should cost half of that.

“And the Dhillons are shrewd business people, they don’t like to be ripped off.”

The Dhillons ordered two new tanks from Ontario, but delivery will take up to eight weeks.

So, Moritz got two 272.4-litre tanks to heat water in the interim.

“We got complaints, but when we checked the tanks the water was hot,” he said.

“We didn’t know two of the four elements weren’t working.”

The tenants shouldn’t be complaining, added Moritz.

“If they don’t like it, they can go and live somewhere else,” he said.

But there’s nowhere else to go, he added.

“If it weren’t for the Dhillons, they’d have no place to stay.

“Most of the tenants that live there are single mothers who can’t find any other place to live — there’s no affordable housing here, and all they seem to be building are condos.

“I couldn’t even afford to buy a place here.”

There’s an eclectic mix of people who live in the building, said Sue.

“Half of the tenants are working, there’s some on disability and social assistance.”

There are some people with drug and alcohol problems, she said.

“But they need somewhere to live, too.”

If Sue was earning more money, she’d try and rent a condo with a roommate, she said.

“But $750 is all I can afford to pay, and I’m budgeting my food,” she said.

“All I ask, is for hot water.”