In section 18 a) of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, Ville de Montréal undertook to:

“take appropriate measures to ensure that housing meets public health and safety standards…”

The OMBUDSMAN DE MONTRÉAL is responsible to ensure the respect of this undertaking.

In February 2011, the media reported major mold problems in a private property with 29 dwellings where many occupants had developed health problems. The Ombudsman felt particularly concerned by the allegations that these tenants were still living in the building, under the same conditions, despite the intervention of the Direction de la santé publique (DSP), three months earlier.

The Ombudsman, therefore, intervened with Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in order to understand the file and inquired as to the steps taken by the borough: she requested explanations regarding how the borough was managing the fungal contamination as well as the specific delays and interventions that were taken in this file.

The borough managers favorably welcomed her intervention and collaborated well. Some tenants whose health was threatened had already been relocated. Notices were issued to the owners, ordering him to rectify the unhealthy situation.

Our office conducted a tour of the building, with representatives from the borough and communicated with the DSP to get the pulse on the situation and its developments.

After the evacuation of some tenants, our office wanted to make sure that dwellings would not be re-rented before appropriate decontamination of the premises. Inspections conducted by the borough in 2012 revealed, however, that some dwellings had been re-rented and moreover, that there were two daycare centers.

Upon recommendation by the DSP, the borough issued numerous evacuation notices namely, to the daycare centers which were then closed. The borough also condemned some of the vacant dwellings, to prevent them from being rented again.

This file raised many questions with regard to the delays before the Borough had acted as well as to its global management of situations concerning unsanitary dwellings. Our investigation focused on these issues.

The Borough quickly improved its procedures so as to ensure a closer and stricter management of situations concerning fungus contaminated dwellings.  It also improved its communications and follow-ups with collaborators such as the DSP.

Three (3) years later, the Borough and the DSP are still acting in this file. Major repair works were done by the owner of the building, but the DSP concluded that the fungal contamination problem had not been completely resolved. Therefore, the DSP maintained its recommendation that the vacant dwellings should not be rented again, for the time being.

The building was sold in 2013. The Borough committed to pursue close follow-ups with the new owners, in collaboration with the DSP, until it is shown that the building is healthy. In light of this commitment and taking into account the major improvements in the management process of such files, in that Borough, our office concluded that its presence was no longer necessary. We decided, therefore, to close this file.

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