A community member’s stand for what’s right

Tenant, Abdul Waheed, doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer … going to any member of the press & government that will listen, and even fighting off lucrative offers for personal gain for the good of his community

Things have taken an interesting turn for the best, but not without the diligent hard work from community member Abdul Waheed, a tenant in a building on Bloomfield in Park Extension, a tenant that over the last few months and years has suffered greatly at the hands of landlords that have abused their power.

A Review of the situation so far

In recent weeks, tenants in a building on Bloomfield in Park Extension have banded together in order to fight their landlord after a rent hike of astronomical proportions. As has been reported by other news outlets—as well as us—the situation has certainly turned volatile. I visited the apartment and was taken on a tour by Abdul Waheed, a resident who reached out to me when things started to get really bad a few weeks back.

Waheed’s front door neighbor, a Mr. Narinder Singh Thethy, stated that his rent was initially $565 and it has now been hiked to $720 and of course he too must now pay heating and hot water every single month in addition to this incredible hike. This was the case for all in the building—give or take a few dollars for every case.

In addition to all of this Waheed spoke of abuse from said landlord, and both in physical and verbal aggression. The whole ordeal sparked a reaction online and many came forward in support. But now that weeks have passed, how do things stand? How have things turned out for the people?

An early reaction

I got a phone call from City Councilor Mary Deros in response to the piece I wrote about the aforementioned building owner that purchased the building on Bloomfield and hiked rents up astronomically after doing a few renovations, and Mary Deros had this to say: “They should go to the Provincial Government.” How owners deal with their tenants is something the rental board can help them with, she also stated. She felt that the situation that the tenants found themselves in on Bloomfield was terrible and not at all just. She feels for those people.

So Waheed listend to Mary Deros’ suggestion and he decided to take it up with the Provincial Government.

He spoke to Andres Fontecilla; he attended a food drive that Waheed organizes in conjunction with many restaurants in Park Extension—especially those affected by Covid-19—held every Saturday. He told him about the situation he was facing. Representatives for Andres Fontecilla said that the wheels turn slow, but they would look into it.

An old story, says Waheed

The previous landlord didn’t listen. The rental board decided in Waheed’s favor when he went to them back then … saying that the owner must do the repairs, and that was never implemented until the building was sold … then the new landlord showed up.

Developments in recent weeks

In recent weeks, however, things took a turn for the worse, seemingly like something out of a spy or rather mafia movie of the eighties. And although the below allegations are surreal, Waheed swears by them and goes on the record: Abdul Waheed was summoned by the landlord’s accountant. Waheed decided to take the meeting and was told of the landlord’s financial suffering: “He’s broke!” said the accountant. He was then told that he would be given anything he wanted, as long as he left the building. Waheed declined.

He was then approached again and was told that they would do work on his apartment to improve living conditions and his apartment alone—none of the other apartments would be worked on—as long as he kept quiet moving forward. To this as well, Waheed declined. He said that it was all apartments or none at all … “all families in the building deserved to be taken care of,” he stated. “The well-being of one and all is what should be the priority of the landlord.”

Finally, the landlord seemed to have caved … pressure from social media attention and courage on the part of tenants like Waheed, as verbally, the landlord stated that he wouldn’t hike up the rents anymore, leaving them at $570 per month, and all that’s left to get him to agree to is once again paying for hot water and heating … an uphill battle nonetheless, says Waheed.