How a clash over apartment storage lockers ended up in eviction notices

A senior in the Yonge Street and St. Clair area is one of several residents terrified she might be evicted from her apartment where she's lived for 34 years because she refused to give up her storage locker.

"It's a very ugly kind of bullying tactic. It really, truly is. It's my home and I wake up thinking about it," Marilyn Hochman said.

Hochman told CBC Toronto she can "barely sleep" as a result.

The owners of the apartment building at 42 Glen Elm Ave. want to expand and already have infill approval to build five more units. To do that, O'Shanter Development Company Ltd. needs to convert the area currently used by more than 30 units for ground-level storage.

In the original plans shown to tenants, the owners planned to build a sub-basement to replace existing lockers. O'Shanter co-owner Adam Krehm told CBC Toronto that it was too costly to do that so his team came up with another option.

Relocation offer

The residents were offered storage in a building owned by the company four blocks north and a $25 rent reduction per month.

The majority of residents took the offer but tenants in 10 of the units held out.

"$25 is an insult because it's not compensation for anything. What does that work out to in a year?" Hochman asked.

Residents were given 30 days to empty their lockers by Jan. 18, 2017.

Hochman emptied her locker by the deadline but put a padlock on the door with "a notice stating that I had been renting an apartment with a locker and a parking space for 34 years."

Eviction notices

For that, she and the others received eviction notices slipped under their doors.

So, the residents got together to file for hearings under the Landlord Tenant Act.

The first one is for Sharin Barber, the co-chair of the Glen Elm residents association, next week.

"I am not ever going to be bullied by a corporation," Barber told CBC Toronto.

She's disgusted so many seniors "received eviction notices because they have some moxie to go up against this huge corporation."

She wants "social justice," and compensation that reflects what the residents believe to be the value of the space — far more than what's been offered.

O'Shanter co-owner Adam Krehm admits the loss of locker space in the building is a reduction in service but said the company's offer was reasonable.

He explained the calculation of the rent reduction was based on operating expenses related to the locker area, "such things as a share of heat, electricity, janitorial services — the whole basket of costs that go into maintaining a building appropriately apportioned to those locker spaces."

He said the company cannot simply cut off the padlocks and the residents' passive protest is now delaying construction crews.

He's open to settling and says he will even make an indefinite offer of off-site storage for "residents in good standing" in writing but said the residents have to make the first move.

"We do not want them out," he said, "Let me repeat that. We do not want to evict those tenants. We do want that locker space back."