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‘Inhumane’: Residents of Toronto condo report stifling temperatures after weeks without air conditioning



‘Inhumane’: Residents of Toronto condo report stifling temperatures after weeks without air conditioning

Entering their fourth week without air conditioning in their downtown Toronto condo, residents say stifling indoor temperatures have become “unbearable.”

After moving to Canada in 2021, Andalib Ahmed and her husband bought their first home together last July – a 1.5 bedroom at The LakeShore, a new property at Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West, near Toronto’s waterfront.

The couple was looking forward to their first summer as homeowners, but on June 6, the air conditioning stopped working – and not just in their unit, but in each of the more than 500 units housed in the 42-storey apartment building.

“I don’t even know how we are living in this condo,” Ahmed told CTV News Toronto.

While residents assumed the repairs would be completed in a timely manner, it’s now been nearly a month since the breakdown and no progress has been made.

The condo’s board of directors would not provide CTV News Toronto with a timeline for when the repairs will be completed.

The board said that parts have not yet arrived for an interim solution in the absence of full repairs. The building manager said they could not provide specifics in order to protect the condo’s property value.

The property, which sits atop Toronto’s flagship Loblaws location, welcomed its first residents in 2020. “If it was a 20-year-old building, you can maybe tell yourself it’s manufacturing, but this one, it’s only five years old,” Ahmed said.

Concord, the building’s developer, said the air conditioning system’s last audit was in May 2023 and that no deficiencies were found.

The air conditioning at 19 Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto has been broken since June 6, according to the property manager.

Yet, indoor temperatures in some units have surpassed 35 degrees in recent weeks, leading to near constant drowsiness from the heat, Ahmed said. Between virtual meetings, she said she’s been rushing to her bedroom, where they’ve installed a new $600 portable air conditioning unit in an attempt to endure through till the repairs are complete.

“Working from home in this condition is insane,” Ahmed said.

Echoing Ahmed’s concern, four additional residents sent photos to CTV News of portable air conditioning units purchased out-of-pocket and installed to deal with the heat. The LakeShore has also received dozens of one-star Google Reviews from others describing weeks without AC and claiming a lack of communication from the board or management teams.

Residents in the LakeShore say they have purchased portable air conditioning units to deal with the heat.

Residents of The LakeShore, Linda Arevalo and her husband, work from home in the 500-square-foot unit that they rent for $2,600 per month. In the afternoons, they’ve been pulling down the blinds to block the sun out of their west-facing one-bedroom, while keeping a close watch on their dog to make sure he doesn’t overheat.

“It is absurd that we pay that much rent and can’t even have a livable temperature,” Arevalo told CTV News, noting an average between 28 to 31 degrees in their unit.

During last week’s heatwave, which saw temperatures spike into the mid-30s in Toronto, Arevalo borrowed a small fan from a neighbour to share with her husband. She said they woke up sweating every morning and had to seek refuge at friends’ houses some nights.

“At times, I would have to leave virtual meetings because I would start feeling dizzy from the heat. It was all unbearable and inhumane,” she continued.

Indoor temperatures in Linda Arevalo’s apartment reach almost 30 degrees.

According to Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aaron, tenants can be owed compensation if services outlined on a lease are not provided. If the landlord used a standard government-issued lease that indicated air conditioning was included, then, in theory, the tenant could go to the Landlord and Tenant Board to seek a rent reduction, Aaron said.

That process, however, would likely take six to nine months, the lawyer explained.

The challenge with condo buildings is that a landlord of an individual unit cannot call a contractor to fix household appliances or HVAC equipment, like they can in a rented house, Aaron explained.

“It’s a lose-lose situation, nobody is happy,” he said.

At LakeShore, some landlords have agreed to assist tenants while they wait for repairs. Just this week, Arevalo said the owner of her unit brought over a portable air conditioning unit after she repeatedly insisted on its necessity.

“We finally got a good night’s sleep last night for the first time in a long time.” 

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