Home is the place you pay to live in that’s supposed to keep you out of the cold. But what happens when your home is almost as cold as the Great Northern outdoors?
For one local woman, that’s a reality.
Cheryl Miller moved into her townhouse – after some confusion about which unit she was moving into – at Timothy Place in August, not knowing the problems that would bestow her in the near future.
“When I moved in, I had a couple of boxes missing – there was somebody here that was putting in light fixtures, so I thought he might have thrown them out by mistake, that happens,” she told SaultOnline. “But, I still never found them and I’ve been here since August so they might have been just thrown out.”
Missing boxes were just the beginning.
Broken door jams (resulting in the use of a butcher knife to keep the door shut), and leaky doors and windows (that have vapour barrier taped over them) are other issues that that have popped up since she moved in.
Miller, who lives with multiple myeloma – a rare form of cancer – needs to keep her medication at room temperature and is worried she can’t, as she can’t keep her house warmer than 20 degrees Celsius without the help of space heaters and the oven due to the drafts, and some parts of her house don’t heat up at all, such as the kitchen.
“I only found out after I moved in that I was sick,” she explained, “so it was already too late (to move somewhere else).”
Most recently, she’s also been dealing with flooding in her basement as well as water in her upstairs bedroom, which she believes is coming in through the ceiling.
“I’m just tired. I’m tried of freezing,” she said. “You figure if you’re paying that much for rent, and you’re almost paying that much for PUC, you’ve got to be a millionaire to live here.”
Red Brick Rentals, based out of Hamilton, owns this complex here in the Sault. Over the years, this company has received numerous complaints from tenants in the various buildings they own, who are in the same situation as Miller in their dealings with the company.
Miller herself has sent multiple emails to RBR’s Sr. Asset Manager Brenda Howes, and says, although she’s getting a response, she feels like she’s getting nowhere.
Being on a fixed income, Miller said it’s very difficult to pay to try and keep her place heated. She said Howes told her they’d compensate some of the heating costs by sending her a $250 rebate for the months of January, February and March, but she hasn’t received anything yet.
“I want to live in my home. I don’t want to live in one bedroom and half of my living room where it’s warm,” she said. “Who wants to go make supper when it’s cold? Unless we turn the oven on first and then it heats up a little bit down there. It’s just not the type of place I like living in.”
As she feels nothing is being done, Miller has taken her case to the city – who has passed it to their legal department – as well as the Landlord-Tenant Tribunal. SaultOnline reached out to the city, but they couldn’t comment as this is an active enforcement.
She said other tenants she’s spoken to are dealing with similar issues, but are afraid to speak out in case they get kicked out of their homes.
“I’m fighting for what I believe in,” she said. “I know (Red Brick Rentals) should be doing something about it. We’re not just a number; we’re a name.
“And that’s what people out there have to realize. If you’re not going to treat us like human beings? We deserve a lot more than what they’re doing for us right now.”
SaultOnline also reached out to Red Brick Rentals, who sent this statement in response:
In the meantime, Miller is number six on the list for a townhouse through Sault Housing.
“I can’t wait until I get a call,” she said. “Because I’ll just move.”