Brad J. Lamb blames Toronto for abrupt eviction of tenants from his illegal apartments
Toronto real estate mogul Brad J. Lamb has agreed (amid mounting public outcry) to pay for any "reasonable costs incurred" by the nine people who were evicted from his illegally-built apartments above an auto garage last week.
The nine people in question, tenants of a property owned by Lamb at 1407-1409 Bloor St. W., were forced to leave their homes twice last week after carbon monoxide detectors were triggered.
Toronto Fire wound up issuing a notice of violation to the landlord on account of the fact that his own CO detectors had failed (fortunately, one tenant had installed their own, potentially saving the lives of everyone in the building last week.)
The City of Toronto subsequently inspected the property and notified Lamb Sterling Corp. that their apartments hadn't been approved for residential use and didn't have proper permits. In other words, they were declared illegal, as well as dangerous.
Tenants say they were informed by their property manager (who works for Lamb) that they been ordered to vacate the premises by Friday, March 12, at midnight. This gave them little more than 24 hours to move out of their homes.
Understandably irked, several residents turned to social media to share the story, making clear that their landlord had refused to pay even for simple moving costs.
Outrage started picking up as news of the surprise eviction spread Monday morning, gaining even more traction when celebrities such as Dan Levy shared the news on Twitter.
This publicity appears to have prompted the Lamb Sterling Corp. to send out a new email to tenants on Monday afternoon promising some moving expenses would, in fact, be covered for those who save their reciepts.
"We thank you for your cooperation in dealing with this terrible situation," reads the email, obtained by blogTO. "Today we are changing the locks and meeting with the City of Toronto to finalize the total shutdown of these units."
"As to your expenses incurred as a result of this unfortunate uprooting from your home, we will compensate you for any reasonable costs incurred," the email continues. "Please forward your receipts for these expenses and you will be reimbursed within 24 hours."
The email from a Lamb Sterling Corp. property manager goes on to say that if tenants still have personal belongings left in their units, those belongings will be safe, and that their stuff can stay at 1407-1409 Bloor St. W. until new accommodations are secured.
"It's quite unfortunate that the City of Toronto gave just 30 hours notice to vacate," the email states. "Perhaps this incident could have proceeded a little better if we had more time to prepare all of you for this eventuality."
How is this legal? https://t.co/dGScIhNg8X— dan levy (@danjlevy) March 15, 2021
Toronto Laywer Caryma Sa'd, who is now representing the group of tenants, told blogTO the moving reimbursement officer is "a slight improvement from the landlord's previously stated refusal to pay anything apart from unused rent."
"However, there's no value ascribed to the abrupt displacement of residents, many of whom were mid-lease," she said, noting that the property manager also attempted in their email to "deflect blame on the City of Toronto."
"In my view, this indicates a lack of accountability on the landlord's part," says Sa'd.
Lamb himself refuted the claim that his team had ever refused to pay for moving costs in the first place.
"At no time did we communicate to our tenants that financial restitution would be denied. Any statement to this effect is simply untrue," he told blogTO in an emailed statement Monday afternoon. "We offer our deepest sympathies to all our tenants."
The realtor and condo developer said that he was as surprised as his tenants when the City of Toronto ordered them to vacate.
"As a developer and landlord, the health and safety of all my tenants is paramount. While I never want to displace anyone, vacating the premises was a direct order by the City and we were all forced to comply," he said in the statement.
"Today, we notified the tenants of our intention to reimburse any and all reasonable expenses related to this terrible situation."
Our backs got got. 😍😍😍 https://t.co/DBJkffXsGw— Michael Seater (@michaelseater) March 16, 2021
According to Lamb, all tenants were given rebates for their prepaid rents as well as the balances of their March rents last Friday.
"The balances varied from CAD $2,140 (for a tenant previously scheduled to move out) to CAD $8,278," he said. "This allowed the tenants to have access to funds immediately."
The group has yet to announce what else they're seeking in terms of restitution, but S'ad suggests that it'll be more than a humble written apology.
"It's very discombobulating to be told you have 30 hours to vacate," she told The Star on Monday. "Their priority at this point is making sure, first of all, that this doesn’t happen to anyone else at this location or anywhere else."
At the bare minimum, the lawyer says her clients want "fair compensation from the landlord," including the reimbursement of moving expenses, storage, an alternative place to live, and food expenses for the period of time that they are displaced from their homes.
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