At the end of November 2016, after being ignored by our landlord for so long, my roomate and I decided the best approach was to file a T6 application with the Landlord and Tenant Board and to make a complaint to Property Standards in Hamilton. In the first two weeks of December, 2016 the apartment was cold and not properly heated.

The first step is to notify the landlord that repairs are necessary. We’d been doing that since before we moved in, however, we hadn’t submitted a written repair request to this point, nor spoken to the landlord (his choice, not ours) for more than five months. In the second week of December, we tried to call our landlord.

Sunday December 11, 2016 – Because John was not returning calls to the one phone number we had for him, we complained to Richard Pollington about the lack of heat.

Wednesday December 14, 2016 – Richard supplied another phone number for John on December 14, 2016, and my roomate called our landlord on the same day. She did not record the call, but John Cerino’s behavior during that phone call was extremely antagonistic and dismissive. However, it did result in Richard Pollington delivering three electric space heaters (none with thermostats). Marie was quite upset after speaking to our landlord.

I called, later the same day (AR 01).

AR 01 – 2016-12-14 19-59 – Telephone Conversation – Paul Bosch, John Cerino.mp3

A transcript of the conversation we had is here (Doc 30).

There are several points to note about this conversation:

1. Please note the numerous examples of John talking over me. That’s one of his techniques for manipulating the situation later; he often talks over someone else in a conversation, particularly if they are saying something he doesn’t agree with. He uses the technique as antagonism, or to lend plausibility to his claims that he “wasn’t told” something. You’ll see numerous examples of this technique in action. (And yes, I talked over John as well. It’s the only way to get a word in when speaking with John Cerino.) John is, apparently, perfectly willing to agree to pay the difference in electricity due to space heaters being used (1:34-2:00). He balks at a written agreement at first, then agrees to sign one (around 3:25 in the recording). He never did and later tried to renege on his agreement, until he found out he had been recorded making the agreement. John is quite accustomed to going back on his word, and is a skilled and manipulative liar. He will also use the unpaid difference in the electricity bills to claim (to a police officer on May 15, 2017) (starting at 18:15 in the video) we owe rent when we withheld the difference, according to the agreement made on December 16, 2016 (see Chapter 09)

2. John’s explanation of why the boiler had not yet brought the building up to the required temperature is ludicrous (2:35-3:30). If it had indeed taken four days for the weather compensation system on the boiler to adjust to the outside temperature, then it needs repair. However, the boiler in our building does not have a functioning weather compensation sensor. At least, I’ve looked, and I can’t find one. Later events will show that the boiler was in need of repair. John’s statements that he is supplying heaters because he “cares about us” were a bit hard to take after being ignored for a year when asking for repairs.

3. When we discuss the low water pressure (starting around 4:40 in the recording), John blames it on a running toilet, or someone else in the building “running the bath”. In actual fact John has been aware of the low water pressure in the building since at least 2011 (Doc 17 Paragraph 10) and has made no real effort to even investigate the cause (that will be apparent from the video and audio recordings later in this document, where John confirms it). You can see an example of the low water pressure here (Vid 03). Marie and I had both complained to Richard Pollington about the low water pressure in the unit, and I had had several conversations with Richard Pollington Jr about the low water pressure in the building and other maintenance issues.

4. John also states that the boiler was installed in 1983 or earlier (around 4:30 in the recording), and that he has “done the same thing for other tenants” (ie: loaned them electric heaters) in the past. This strongly suggests that John is aware the heating system for the building is inadequate when the weather turns very cold.

5. Around the 7 minute mark in the recording, John invites us to move if we aren’t happy with the way things are, since he “can’t change what is”. Later events will show that John’s method of dealing with repair requests is to harass the tenant into leaving.

After this phone call, Marie and I agreed that any conversation with John should be recorded. My roommate (correctly, I now think) identified John as a sociopath based on the two telephone calls and his earlier behavior. I didn’t agree, but after researching the legality of recording a conversation in our home, I didn’t see any harm in having a record of our conversations. While I didn’t agree that there was enough evidence to conclude that John was a sociopath, it was apparent that he was a slumlord and willing to lie.

Friday December 16, 2016 – A letter outlining our concerns (Doc 036) was given to Richard Pollington, the caretaker of the building.

15 December 2016

Mr. John Cerino

6 Acorn St,

Hamilton, ON L8L 5Y6

Dear Mr. Cerino;

We are writing this to inform you of some repairs needed in our rental unit at 99 East Avenue South Unit #2, Hamilton, Ontario.

For the past five days the apartment has been cold. This was an ongoing issue last winter, and appears to be worse this winter. We measured the temperature in the unit on December 13, around 20:00, and discovered the temperature in the southwest front bedroom to be 53.1°F, the northwest front bedroom to be 58.1°F, the living room 63.4°F, the third bedroom 55.2°F, the bathroom 54.9°F and the kitchen 51.6°F. On December 15, around 09:00, the temperature in the northwest front bedroom was 54.0°F, the living room 54.4°F, the third bedroom 51.2°F, the bathroom 50.9°F and the kitchen 49.6°F. The measurements were made with a laser thermometer comparable to the devices used by city health inspectors to measure air temperature in rental units

On December 15, at about 09:15 we activated four 1500 watt electric space heaters and allowed them to run continuously until 21:15 (12 hours). The temperature in the southwest front bedroom was found to be 67.1°F, the northwest front bedroom to be 53.1°F (no heater was activated in this room, and the door was left closed), the living room 70.4°F, the third bedroom 64.2°F (no heater was activated in this room, but the door was left open), the bathroom 67.9°F and the kitchen 69.6°F. The electricity consumed by the space heaters was 1.5 kW X 12 hours x 4 heaters = 72 kW/h, which at current rates is $10.65 for usage alone, plus delivery charges, etc. For a single day, running the heaters 12 hours only.

A good part of the problem is the fact that several previous requests for repairs, or the materials so that we could do the repairs ourselves, has been ignored. The back door to the apartment is not fitted properly to the frame, and does not seal. This allows cold air to enter the kitchen in winter, and mice and insects in the summer. All of the windows are not properly sealed and allow cold air to enter the apartment. The front door is not properly fitted to the frame and allows cool air from the hallway to enter the living room. There is a one inch gap under the door, and somewhat narrower gaps all around the door. Two of the windows are cracked (and have been since we moved in) and allow cold air through the cracks.

We remind you of section 9(1) and 9(2) of Hamilton By-Law 03-117 (‘‘Property Standards By-Law”), which reads:

9(1) windows, skylights, exterior doors and frames, basement or cellar hatchways and attic access doors shall be maintained in good repair and shall be of such construction as to minimize drafts and heat losses due to infiltration of outside cold air.

9(2) Rotted or damaged doors, door frames, window frames, sashes and casings, weather-stripping, caulking, broken glass and missing or defective door and window hardware shall be repaired or replaced.

As well, the unit above us is unheated most of the time, meaning we have a large cold sink above our unit that cools the air even further. Measurements taken with the same instrument used to measure air temperature in the unit indicate the ceiling in the living room is up to 6°F cooler than the air temperature 3 feet above the floor.

We have caulked around window glass, but the frames themselves appear to be letting cold air into the unit. Most of the windows are a single pane of glass, which exacerbates the heating problem. We have put some weather stripping around doors, but the problem requires a professional repair. (As an aside, none of the windows have screens either, which has been an ongoing problem in warm weather. We have a cat.)

The solution you proposed during your telephone conversation with Ms Ball, and a later one with me on December 14 is not acceptable. The use of temporary heating devices while the ongoing issue of the building’s heat is addressed is acceptable to us, provided they are separately powered at your expense. The use of temporary heating devices as a permanent solution is not acceptable to us, especially not when the expense of running them appears on our electricity bill. A reasonable estimate of the cost of running such temporary heating devices to maintain a temperature even close to the minimum standards in the unit is $400 per month, however the actual cost may be higher.

We remind you that Section 3 of Hamilton By-Law 04-091 states;

3. A Property Owner and the Landlord of rental residential premises shall provide a supply of adequate and suitable heat to habitable spaces within the premises or parts thereof and no Property Owner or Landlord shall cause or permit the lack of adequate and suitable heat to habitable spaces within the premises or parts thereof.

Section 2 (1) (a) of that same By-law defines “adequate and suitable heat” as follows:

(a) “adequate and suitable heat” means the maintenance of an air temperature of at least twenty degrees Celsius (20°C) (68 ‘F) in all habitable spaces, by a safe, operable and permanent heating appliance capable of maintaining that temperature;

For your information, Section 2(3 ) of that same By-law reads (in part):

and further this by-law shall not be interpreted so as to require a Tenant to use temporary heating devices in the premises or part to meet the Property Owners or Landlords obligations under this by­law.

It should be noted that properly repairing the doors and windows in the unit and correcting the cold sink situastion might be enough to allow the existing heating devices to maintain the required temperature, provided the equipment is operating at maximum output.

Aside from the heat, there has been an ongoing issue with both water pressure and the availability of hot water in our unit. These issues go far beyond the normal quirks of an older building, as you suggested in our conversations. It has become nearly impossible to shower without losing hot water at some point, and frequently losing water pressure altogether.

There are five other issues that concern us as well; 1) there is a soft spot in the kitchen floor that should be repaired, 2) all three bedroom doors are in need of repair/replacement and; 3) all three bedroom carpets have been in need of replacement since we moved in. The stains from the previous tenants cannot be removed. 4) the light in the front foyer is always off. This creates a situation where both front doors have to be held open to admit enough light to operate the lock on the interior door. The switch for the light is located in Unit 1, and we are told the electricity for that light is metered through the meter for Unit 1, which is why the light is always off.. We understand why the tenant in Unit 1 would wish to leave the light off, but it creates an inconvenience and a concern for safety and; 5) the stove has a malfunctioning thermostat and the door does not seal properly.

The provision of adequate heat and water are not negotiable points with either of us, Mr Cerano. Your comments comparing your own situation to ours were not appreciated. If you chose to live without adequate hot water, that’s your choice. It isn’t ours, and we remind you that we are paying you rent in part for the provision of adequate heat and water, as well as a reliable supply of hot water.

Your comment to me during our telephone conversation of December 14 where you said “If you don’t like it here, move” was not at all well received and was unprofessional. If we are obligated to move because you are unable or unwilling to fulfil your obligation to provide heat, water and timely repairs, we will begin legal proceedings to recover costs and damages.

As Ms Ball stated in her conversation with you, we would like to see the repairs done (or at least started) by 22 December 2016. If reasonable efforts have not been made by that date, further action may be taken.

Govern yourself accordingly;

Marie Ball & Paul Bosch

One note about this letter: The Property Standards Bylaw I quoted in the letter is actually an outdated bylaw that has been changed since 2003 (the year it was passed). The current bylaw was passed in 2010. The error came from the fact that I went to the Municipal Bylaw offices in Jackson Square and asked for a copy of the bylaws. I was given the older version. The relevant portions of the bylaw I quoted are almost identical in the new version. The latest Property Standards bylaw is here (Doc 32). Property Standards have been slowly lowered, bit by bit, by City Council over the years to the point where standards are so low they provide no real guarantee of safe housing.

We set up a video camera, out of the way but not concealed, for the meeting with John (Vid 04). There was some difficulty pinning John down to an exact time and day. John would be vague about when he would be at the property, and often used that uncertainty to waste our time, or to create confusion. That will be apparent from later videos and recordings.

A transcript of the conversation can be downloaded here: (Doc 31):

There are a few points to remember about this conversation (aside from the fact that it is 45 minutes of John being disingenuous, speaking blatant falsehoods, talking over us and trivializing our complaints)

  1. John states that this is “the first I’ve heard of it” in reference to repairs. We both knew that was false, since I had spoken to John in person about repairs about six months before, and John had agreed to do some of the repairs we requested before we moved in, more than a year before. “Nobody told me” or “I didn’t know” are common phrases out of John’s mouth. He knew.
  2. John refuses to check whether the radiators are warm. His brother, Agostino, says that they are “not even warm”. They were much cooler (Doc 33) than the approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit that they should have been. Also note that neither John nor Agostino remove their coats while in the unit. The apartment was cold.
  3. John claims to have checked the boiler, and pronounced it “running at full capacity”. Later events proved this untrue. In actual fact, at the time, the flow switch for the boiler was off (Doc 034) meaning that the hot water heated by the boiler was not being circulated through the radiators. John has, according to his brother Agostino, had been educated as a stationary engineer. John was either lying about the boiler, or was not competent to diagnose what was, in the end, a very simple problem. The serial number of the boiler indicates it was manufactured in March of 1985 (Doc 35). At the time these incidents took place, the boiler was 31 years old, and (according to Richard) had not been maintained for the last six years at least.
  4. Please note the date (Doc 34), December 20, 2016, of the HVAC technician’s first visit. That was four days after this conversation, six days after my roomate and I had both called John to complain about lack of heat, and nine days after we’d first raised the issue of inadequate heat with Richard. There seemed to be no sense of urgency about the problem at all. It is not reasonable that ANY HVAC company took that long to respond to a “no heat” complaint. I have been employed as the office manager for an HVAC company. “No heat” service calls for an apartment building have a higher priority than anything short of a natural gas leak, or other situation that is an imminent danger to the public. John tries to excuse the delay by blaming it on “Steve from Allied Mechanical” not returning his calls in a later video made on February 1, 2017. That’s unlikely, and had it been the case, the problem could have been solved very simply. Call someone else. It’s a service call, with time and materials for any repairs. Any HVAC company would jump at the call.
  5. John is (deliberately, I believe) obtuse about the significance of the ceiling being cooler than the rest of the room, and is disruptive and dismissive when I attempted to show him the temperature gradient for the room. (Briefly, the ceiling of a room that size, heated by radiant heat, should be approximately 3 degrees warmer than the floor, not six degrees cooler.) The finished attic above our unit has been left open in winter (so that our ceiling is very cold) and closed up in summer (so that there is a huge heat load on our ceiling due to heating of the attic). John also states that the attic cannot be heated since “it’s not connected” (meaning there’s no electricity). That was a falsehood, and everyone in the room knew it.
  6. At the end of the conversation, John is again asked about providing a written agreement to pay the difference in our electricity costs. John was at first evasive, then agreed to provide one. He never did, and later attempted to renege on the agreement, apparently unaware that he had been recorded.
  7. John states that fixing the kitchen floor would take days, possibly a week, and grossly exaggerates the size and complexity of the job. The floor was eventually repaired (after Property Standards wrote a compliance order in June 2017). The repair actually took less than three hours (mostly by Agostino, with some help from John). You’ll see the repair done in the videos from August 1, 2017.
  8. John promises to replace the carpets, but asks “Do you mind if we wait until spring?” He later reneged, claiming he had agreed to replace the carpets in one bedroom only, despite saying “I will replace them”. A reasonable person would think that “them” refers to more than one carpet (there’s one per bedroom). John often equivocates. 
  9.  John promises that he’ll “caulk them and seal them wherever we can” in reference to the windows. What he meant was that he would have his brother Agostino drop off a roll of plastic sheet sufficient to cover about half of the windows, a single roll of tape, 14 rolls of caulking (about half of which were hardened and useless) and a caulking gun. The plastic sheets and caulking were done by my roomate.
  10. John tries to use the excuse that he doesn’t have money to replace windows. That seems odd for someone who made his first million when he was 28 years old (Doc 05). I now believe him; or at least that he never pays his bills.
  11. John will not commit to a schedule for any of the repairs, and attempts to delay some of the repairs using lame excuses.

Tuesday December 20, 2016 – Agostino Cerino knocked on our door and asked to come in to do repairs. No Notice of Entry was given, as required under the RTA. He measured the bedroom doors, and did some work attempting to plane one interior door that was sticking (on Bedroom 2), then promised to return the next day. He did not return the next day, nor did he inform us that the building’s boiler was being repaired on December 20, 2016. (Agostino later told us that John hadn’t informed him about the boiler being serviced. I believe Agostino). He did, however, supply the plastic roll, tape and caulking to seal the windows of the unit, which my roomate did.

Other than that, we had no communication from our landlord, his brother or his agents.

Wednesday December 21, 2016 – It was still cold in the apartment, so we wrote another letter requesting repairs. Richard had asked us to “leave me out of it” after I’d given him the first written repair request, so I tried to send the letter by email to the address John had provided on December 16, 2016, and the email bounced. I called John to get his correct email: (AR 02). John wouldn’t give it.

AR 02 – 2016-12-22 20-13 – Telephone Conversation – Paul Bosch, John Cerino.mp3

This was the beginning of our landlord’s refusal to communicate with us on any matter. John apparently felt that if we couldn’t agree on everything, then we couldn’t agree on anything.

Snail mail wasn’t an option (too slow) so that left delivering a letter to Richard, John Cerino’s agent. (Doc 037). Richard again asked me to “leave him out of it” so I explained to him that I’d tried emailing and it hadn’t worked, and all he had to do was pass the letter along to John, He agreed to do so, took the two copies of the letter, compared them and signed a proof of delivery at the end of our copy.

22 December 2016

Mr. Cerino

6 Acorn St, Hamilton, ON

Dear Mr. Cerino:

We are writing this to inform you of our concerns regarding repairs needed in our rental unit at 99 East Avenue South Unit #2, Hamilton, Ontario.

As of December 21, there has been no one to service/repair the obviously malfunctioning boiler (the radiators are currently showing a surface temperature 106°F-113°F instead of the 150-170°F they should). Your refusal to even acknowledge the boiler is not working properly is a source of concern to us.

The unit upstairs is still unheated and a source of cold air in winter, and hot air in summer. (As an aside, our apartment reached a temperature of 46°C last summer without air conditioning. Despite running two 13000 BTU portable air conditioners, the temperature in the apartment rarely dropped below 28°C as a result of the leaking of warm air around the windows, and heat radiated from the unit above. The unit above became so hot it activated the building’s fire alarms in the second week of August and alerted us to the problem. Your superintendent alleviated (but did not solve) the problem by opening windows in the unit above, and placing a fan in one of the windows. Your negligence in not covering the windows on the south wall of the unit upstairs during a hot summer, and not providing adequate ventilation was directly responsible for a significant increase in our hydro consumption. If that situation repeats next summer, we will apply to the LTB for a rent abatement.)

Our conversation with you on December 16 did not inspire our confidence that repairs would be completed in a timely manner. You refused (again) to acknowledge the existence of the problem with the water, and would not commit to any schedule for the other repairs. You also made statements we knew to be false. You agreed to a written tenancy agreement in regards to the cost of operating the temporary heaters, but have made no effort to fulfil that promise. As of the time of this writing (20:00, December 21), your efforts have consisted of delivering 14 tubes of caulking, 1 roll of plastic, and one 45 yard roll of packing tape (insufficient for the job of sealing the windows), 3 temporary heating devices and the loan of a caulking gun from your superintendent. Your brother visited the unit on December 20, and began (but did not complete) the repair to one of the bedroom doors, measured the other bedroom doors, and promised to return “sometime tomorrow” to complete the repair and to repair the front door of the unit. He did not return as promised to complete the repairs, and we wasted a day waiting for him.

We have been very clear that the use of temporary heaters is not acceptable as a permanent solution, but you have made little effort to complete (or even start) the required repairs necessary to correct the situation. We are not willing to have those heaters metered through our unit unless we have a written agreement that you will pay the difference. You seem reluctant to provide one.

We still do not have a working oven (nor has any mention been made of repair /replacement), no mention has been made of replacing the carpets or the soft spot in the kitchen floor (other than a vague assurance of “sometime in spring”) and you have flatly refused to repair or replace the windows in the unit. Most annoying is the fact that the light in the foyer is still out, a week after we drew your attention to that fact. That repair consists (at most) of replacing a light bulb and flipping a switch.

We recognize that your brother Peter and your superintendent Richard are doing their best under difficult conditions. However, we have had requests for repairs ignored for too long. The problem seems to be you, Mr. Cerino. Accordingly, we feel that we have no option but to begin an action with the Landlord and Tenant Board seeking an order for the necessary repairs, as well as a rent abatement for the period for which repairs have not been done.

Going forward, please provide the required written 24 hours notice for entry into our unit for repairs. We remind you that the written notice must provide a reasonable window of time for the repair to be started. “Sometime tomorrow” is not a reasonable window. We feel that for a specific repair (such as the doors) a two hour window would be reasonable. Any entry into our unit without proper notice may result in criminal charges being brought against you.

We also ask that any further communication between yourself and either of us be in writing only.

The last request was an attempt to slow John’s equivocation and minimize friction. It doesn’t show as much in the videos as it did in real life, but it should be clear that John was becoming more and more antagonistic and hostile.

Since there had been no good faith effort on our landlord’s part to repair our apartment, on December 23, 2016 we filed a T6 application (Doc 038with the LTB (As of May 13, 2020 it has yet to be heard, three and a half years later). At the same time, we applied to the LTB for permission to pay our rent to the Tribunal until the matter could be resolved known as “payment in”). I didn’t know it at the time, but a tenant can only apply once for payment in to the Board. If permission is refused, you can’t apply again, and it is (now) granted only in very unusual circumstances (such as the landlord refusing rent).

Wednesday December 28, 2016 – I spoke to the neighbor in the upstairs unit on the other side of the building (Doc 039.1), Cora Mitchell. She told me she had been asking to have their kitchen floors replaced since they moved in, and stated that she had already “filled in the paperwork” for an application to the LTB. I spoke to her briefly about forming a tenants’ association; she seemed interested at the time. I also let her know that Property Standards would also respond to a complaint (which I believed at the time). Cora also complained about the window panes being loose in the frames, the doors inside her unit, and the general lack of maintenance of the property.

There was no communication from our landlord at all. We were not informed that a technician had serviced the boiler on December 20 or December 28 of 2016 until February of 2017, two months later. The apartment was cold, and the three electric heaters were running almost continuously.

During the last week of December, I again contacted the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic for advice. John wasn’t doing anything about the repair requests. The advice I got was to proceed with the complaint to Property Standards, and (“if you really want quick action”) to file a T2 Application for Tenant Rights alleging that John was withholding a vital service (heat and water). That made sense to me; the reason the apartment was cold was that he refused to repair the boiler (or even admit there was a problem with it).

Wednesday January 4, 2017 – Marie called Property Standards in Hamilton to complain about the lack of heat, and other issues.

Thursday January 5, 2017 – My roomate’s complaint to Municipal Law Enforcement resulted in a visit by Donna May Lord, a Municipal Law Enforcement officer assigned to Property Standards. My roomate complained about the lack of heat, and the other issues raised in the letter written on December 15, 2016 (Doc 036). The Action Request submitted by Ms Lord to the city of Hamilton are for the heat complaint are here (Doc 041) and for the windows and doors (Doc 040). Her notes on the windows and various Property Standard issues are (Doc 044) and an additional Action Request for the toilet and interior doors is (Doc 045).

Ms Lord was quite dismissive of Marie’s complaint in person, and was rude and confrontational, but did write a two compliance orders for some of the repairs needed.

The first, Property Standards Order No. 17-100489 00 PS (Doc 042), orders John to:

(a)    Repair or replace the front and rear doors so they fit properly and free from drafts.

(b)   Repair the cracked door to the room at the front of the apartment by the kitchen.

(c)    Repair the door to the bedroom on the left hand side (near the hardware).

(d)   Repair the door to the bedroom on the right hand side so that it opens and closes properly.

And;

Repair or replace the toilet so that it flushes properly.

The second, Compliance Order 17-208573 00 PS (Doc 043) ordered John to:

Repair all cracked and broken windows in the apartment and fit them with screens.

but gave John until April 30, 2017 to complete the work. That puzzled me since everything except installing the screens could easily be done inside the building. John explains this in a conversation on February 1, 2017. Briefly, John convinced Ms Lord that the work would take days, and needed to be done from the outside. Ms Lord appears to have little practical knowledge of building repairs in general.

Curiously, there was no Order to Comply written for the repairs needed to the kitchen floor. This was explained by John in a later conversation (on February 1, 2017). John told Ms Lord that there was a steel plate under the kitchen floor, and the soft spot was not an issue. If there was a steel plate under the floor, it was not visible when the floor was ripped up on August 1, 2017, nor was it detectable by a metal detector. In short John lied, either to us on February 1, 2017 or to Ms Lord on January 5, 2017. The foyer light, stove and carpets were not on either OTC. Ms Lord informed Marie (incorrectly) that all of those issues were beyond the jurisdiction of Property Standards. In fact, the foyer light being out is a Property Standards violation (see 19 (1) (Doc 032)). Ms Lord also failed to include my roomate’s complaint about the hot water being intermittent or non-existent. Ms Lord did check that hot water was available (at the time she was in our unit, it was) but did not measure the temperature of the water. She also advised my roomate that the broken self-closure on the front door was not under Property Standards jurisdiction, and would need to be addressed by a fire inspector. Marie called the fire department the next day and made a complaint.

Ms Lord was also unable to properly measure the temperature in our unit since the electric space heaters had been running. That explains John’s eagerness to get those heaters into our unit. I’ve since talked to a former tenant of John’s who had the same experience, and a few others who’ve had the same experience with a different landlord. The heaters forestall any action by the City of Hamilton on a heat complaint.

However, she did include the malfunctioning toilet in one OTC without being asked. She also called John, in front of Marie, and told him to turn up the heat, and warned him not to turn it down again after she left.

It should be noted that there was no communication from Ms Lord about our complaint after she left. We did leave several messages for Ms Lord on her voicemail over the next few weeks, asking for information about the complaint, but never got a reply. The documentation here was obtained through an FoI request made to the City of Hamilton. We weren’t informed that Orders to Comply had been written, and didn’t find out until January 23, 2016, during the “Case Management Hearing” that any action had been taken.

During the time between December 15, 2016 and January 4, 2017, I had spoken to a lawyer at the Hamilton Legal Clinic. Her advice was to file a T2 application with the LTB “if you want action”. So, on January 4, 2017, we filed a T2 application with the LTB (SOT-77864-16) (Doc 046) alleging that John was interfering with our reasonable enjoyment of our unit by failing to supply heat, water and hot water. We also filed a T7 application, asking John to provide the proof that the refrigerator met the required standards. (It isn’t well known in Ontario, but the refrigerator supplied with a rental unit in Ontario must meet required efficiency standards. We asked John for verification that the refrigerator in our unit met those standards.)

Wednesday January 11, 2017 – We received our Notices of Hearing for the Case Management Hearing on January 23, 2017. The scheduled hearing was to deal with all of our applications. (Doc 047 and Doc 048).

Saturday January 14, 2017 – Agostino delivered a Notice of Entry; for January 16, 2017, a Monday (Doc 049, shown below). The Notice is deficient, as it does not specify the areas of the unit to be accessed, nor the repairs being done, but we wanted our apartment fixed so we didn’t make an issue of the deficiency. At least our landlords were giving us written notice so it was progress.

Section 27(3) of the RTA (which deals with Notice of Entry) reads:

Contents of notice

(3) The written notice under subsection (1) or (2) shall specify the reason for entry, the day of entry and a time of entry between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.  2006, c. 17, s. 27 (3).

What we got was this (Doc 49):

Doc 049 – 2017-01-14 – Notice of Entry.jpg

So, at first glance, this Notice of Entry appears to satisfy the statutory requirements. There’s a day and time of entry, but it does not specify the reason for entry (assuming that “reparring” means “repairing”, it is still too vague. Repairing what? And where in the apartment? And which apartment? (There is no address on the notice, other than our unit number.) There are more requirements for a Notice of Entry than the bare minimum set out in the RTA. There is case law that makes this notice deficient in other ways. The LTB thoughtfully provided Interpretation Guidelines” (Doc 50) on this subject. They aren’t binding on a member, but a landlord ignores them at his peril. Or so I’ve been told.)

Monday January 16, 2017 – Agostino entered the apartment and replaced two bedroom doors, planed the third so it was no longer sticking (much) and began putting weather stripping on the front door of the unit. He promised to arrange the replacement of the stove, which took place on January 21, 2017. Agostino took both of us to the ground floor apartment on the other side of the building (where the Stampers now live) and told us to pick from the stoves (four or five) that were stored in the unit. While there, Agostino remarked that the stoves and refrigerators stored in the apartment had been there for “weeks” and he didn’t know why John hadn’t replaced the stove earlier.)

Saturday January 21, 2017 – Agostino delivered another Notice of Entry for January 23, 24, and 25, 2017 (Doc 051). When he originally handed it to me, I had to point out to him that the dates on the Notice were not consistent with what he was saying. So he corrected the dates (Agostino had thought it was January 20, not January 21).

Doc 051 – 2017-01-21 – Notice of Entry.jpg

Note that January 23, 2017 is the day of the Case Management Hearing. Again, the notice was deficient (for the same reasons as last time). While he was there, Agostino also spent most of the day of the 23rd and the 24th attempting to repair the front door of the unit, unsuccessfully. (On Feb 2, 2017 he states that the reason for taking so long to repair the door is that he’s “working with garbage that should be thrown away” (AR 04).The front door is badly warped, does not close properly, and has a 1″ gap under the door and the locking mechanism would not hold the door closed unless the deadbolt was engaged. Agostino was of the opinion that the door should be replaced. He is correct.

Monday January 23, 2017 – The telephone hearing was scheduled for 2:30 pm. John and Agostino arrived on the property at 10:40 and Agostino entered the unit to work on the back door. John did not enter the unit, but was disruptive – repeatedly shouting at Agostino from the hallway, and antagonizing everyone. John did not enter our unit. At 1:50, Agostino told us they were leaving to “Give us some privacy for the hearing”. The Case Management Hearing was conducted by telephone. The recording of the hearing is here (AR 05).

AR 05 – 2017-01-23 – Case Management Hearing SOT-77620-16 SOT-77864-17

John states several falsehoods in this hearing, with the clear intention of attempting to bias the adjudicator. He accuses us of trying to break a fixed term lease by stating (1:00:13-1:00:50 “I did say to them…I did say to them if they didn’t like it where they are, you know, they could move because I have them on a lease, so I have the lease running, and I was willing to open that up to help them out, not because I want to kick them out. She took it the wrong way when I said that, she says, ‘Are you telling me that I have to move?’, No, I’m trying to help you.” John Cerino does not have, nor has ever had, a fixed term lease with any of us. This was the first time we’d heard of it. John was trying to make us appear to be “professional tenants”.

John also said “I was notified on the…whatever date they gave me…December the…tenth…was it? Or ninth?…okay?…and immediately I called a furnace repair person…the person didn’t get back to me…”(16:20-16:44 AR 05). Until the Case management hearing we were not aware that a technician had serviced and/or repaired the boiler prior to December 28 2016. It’s (barely) possible that Allied Mechanical ignored a no heat call, but this is most likely a lie. If it is the truth, John could easily have called another HVAC company to repair the boiler.

At 24:10-24:30, John states “She {Marie} does it often, goes down there {to Richard Pollington’s apartment} and, you know, has a problem and mentions it…” This contradicts John’s multiple earlier statements that he was unaware of any repair requests prior to December 14, 2016.

John also stated that Agostino was a landlord, which was news to us. Agostino took part in the Case Management Hearing as a landlord.

As a result of the Case Management Hearing, an Interim Order was issued by the LTB (Doc 052). The only issues resolved were listed in paragraph 3:


Order under Section 16.1 of the
Statutory Powers Procedure Act
and the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006

File Numbers: SOT-77864-17-IN and SOT-77620-16

In the matter of: 2, 99 EAST AVENUE SOUTH

HAMILTON ON L8N2T6


and

John Cerino

INTERIM ORDER

1.      The Tenants applied for an order determining that the Landlord:

a.      failed to meet the Landlord’s obligations related to suite meters under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the ‘Act’).

b.      failed to meet the Landlord’s maintenance obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the ‘Act’) or failed to comply with health, safety, housing or maintenance standards.

c.      withheld or deliberately interfered with the reasonable supply of a vital service, care service, or food that the Landlord is obligated to supply under the tenancy agreement.

2.      A Case Management Hearing (CMH) was held by telephone on January 23, 2017. The Tenants, the Landlord and Augostino Cerino, the Landlord’s business partner, attended the hearing.

3.      After reviewing the materials submitted and listening to the submissions presented at the CMH, I am satisfied the Landlord and Tenants are in agreement as follows:

The Tenancy commenced October 1,2015 and the Tenants’ lawful monthly rent is $1,100.00.

The parties agree that the following issues in the Tenants’ applications have been resolved: Stove, Bedroom doors, Foyer light and Door Self-closure.

4.      The parties were unable to resolve ail the issues in dispute. Accordingly, a hearing on the merits is scheduled for March 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm to resolve this application. The parties were informed about the time, place and purpose of the merits hearing.

5.      The parties shall request Board Summons no later than 10 days before the merits hearing.

6.      The Tenants are encouraged to seek legal advice prior to the merits hearing. The telephone number for the Hamilton Legal Clinic is 905-757-9590. The Landlord may contact Landlord Self Help at 416-504-5190 for legal advice.

7.      If the parties intend to rely on documentary evidence such as texts, bills, emails, these documents must be submitted. Parties must ensure they are prepared to speak to the relevance of their materials and the probative value.

ORDER:

1.      The application will be heard on its merits on March 7, 2017;

2.      Disclosure:

a)      No later than February 20, 2017, the Tenants shall produce to the Landlord any arguably relevant evidence (not already produced to each other and filed with the LTB) that will be used at the Merits Hearing. The Tenants shall bring copies of those documents to the hearing to be given to the member if admitted as evidence.

b)      No later than February 27, 2017, the landlord shall produce to the Tenants any arguably relevant evidence (not already produced to each other and filed with the LTB) that will be used at the Merits Hearing. The Landlord shall bring copies of those documents to the hearing to be given to the member if admitted as evidence.

.f either party fails to comply with this interim order, the L i B may proceed without further notice to the parties and decide the application based on the evidence before it.

January 24. 2017

This was our first LTB hearing, and it used 90 minutes of a mediator’s time.

Friday January 27, 2017 we received a letter from the LTB (Doc 053) informing us that we could not pay our rent to the board. It had been written a month before. I guess the mail was slow.

Denial of Payment-in

December 29, 2016

Marie Ball

#2-99 East Avenue South Hamilton, ON

L8N 2T6

Re: #2-99 East Avenue South

Hamilton, ON

L8N 2T6

On December 23, 2016, our office received your request to pay rent to the Board related to your application about maintenance, file number SOT-77620-16.

After reviewing your request and the application, I have decided to deny your request. In your request you assert:

My roommate and I have filed a Tenant Application About Maintenance (T6) seeking a rent abatement and an order from the Board to the landlord to perform necessary repairs, and provide a safe and adequate supply of heat, water and hot water. Mr. Cerino has been completely uncooperative and has not performed        

repairs requested for more than a year.

The reason for your request does not satisfy me that there are any special circumstances which would justify having the rent paid into the Board, for example that you do not know who to pay or how to contact the landlord, or the landlord refuses to accept the rent.

Please note that the hearing for this application will take place as scheduled. It is important that you attend the hearing.

If you have any questions, please contact the Board at 416-645-8080 or toll free at 1-888- 332-

Sean Henry

Member, Landlord and Tenant Board

cc: John Cerino, Landlord

In Ontario, a tenant is required by law to pay for services he does not receive.

Tuesday January 31, 2017 – Agostino delivered another Notice of Entry for February 2 and 3, 2017. (Doc 054) Again, the Notice is deficient, but we didn’t make an issue of it. Marie spoke with Agostino and was told that he would be working on the rear door of the unit.

Doc 054 – 2017-01-31 – Notice of Entry.jpg

Agostino also served an N4 notice with his signature as the landlord (Doc 055):

Doc 55- page 1.jpg
Doc 55- page 2.jpg

Note that this N4 Notice bears Agostino’s signature as the landlord, not John’s. When I questioned Agostino about this, he said that John had “forced me to sign” but would not explain further.

Early evening, I delivered another letter to our landlord to Richard Pollington (Doc 056).

31 January 2017

Mr. John Cerino

#1-6 Acorn St,

Hamilton, ON L8L 5Y6

Mr. Cerino;

As of tomorrow, February 1, 2017, we will owe $2200.00 in rent. As this amount is more than will be needed to pay for increased hydro usage due to the space heaters, we are willing to pay you $1700.00 on or after February 1, 2017. This will pay the arrears for January, and $600 of February’s rent, leaving $500 available to cover the difference in electricity usage. We expect that bill in the third week of February, and will use the $500 to the difference between the February bill and the previous electricity bill (as agreed). Any excess funds will be returned to you, along with a copy of both electricity bills. If the difference is more than $500 (unlikely, given that it has been unseasonably warm the past few’ weeks) we will adjust March’s rent to reflect the difference

This offer is made without conditions, except that we ask for an immediate receipt for the rent. We are no longer comfortable with giving Richard cash and having him drop off a receipt days later. Please make arrangements with either of us (in writing please) to pick up your rent.

On the subject of rent receipts: As per our verbal agreement, we ask that you produce rent receipts in the amount of $2800 for Mike Nerlich, $3750 for Paul Bosch, and $6650 for Marie Ball for the rent paid for the period 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016 ($2800 + $3750 + $6650 = $13,200 = 12 x $1100 monthly rent= total rent paid for 2016). Please provide those receipts no later than February 7, 2017. Going forward, we would ask that a separate monthly receipt be given to each tenant, rather than one monthly receipt for the full amount to Ms Ball.

Mr Cerino, some of things you said in the Case Management Hearing of January 23, 2017 have caused us some concern and confusion.

First, none of us (Marie Ball, Paul Bosch, Mike Nerlich) recall signing a lease. During the Case Management Hearing, you referred to a lease you claimed all three of us had signed. Please forward a copy of that document to us.

Second, we were unaware that your brother Agostino has any interest in the property at 97-99 East Ave South. During conversations with Ms Ball, Agostino has indicated he has no authority to spend money for repairs to the building, and does not have any (legal) interest in the building. We were unaware that Agostino had any interest in this matter until January 23, 2017, during the Case Management Hearing. Please clarify, in writing, his status in this matter.

Third, you referred to Richard as your “caretaker”. Until that hearing, you had referred to him as your superintendent, and had insisted that all repair requests and other concerns about the building be passed through him. Please clarify, in writing, his exact role in the management of the building, and the procedure you require us to follow in order to have repairs completed in a timely manner.

Fourth, you have not communicated with us since December 15, 2016 other than a brief telephone call on December 22, 2016 in which Paul asked you for an email address and to communicate with us in writing only. We were unaware that the boiler had been serviced on December 21, 2016, although we were aware of a technician on the property on December 27, 2016. Had you informed us of your progress towards repairing the boiler, we might have delayed filing our application with the LTB. That same boiler failed on January 24, 2017 and was offline for two days. We request that you give us detailed information on the repairs done, as well as information on the boiler itself, as we have a friend (who is an experienced HVAC contractor) advising us on the heat situation in the building. We also have some data on radiator surface temperature vs outside air temperature that may be useful in diagnosing the problem It should be obvious by now that there is a problem with the boiler.

Mr Cerino, we are willing to discuss a settlement, but have been handicapped by your refusal to respond to our attempts to communicate. We ask that any communication be in writing, to avoid future misunderstandings.

Sincerely;

Marie Ball & Paul Bosch

We arranged for John to meet us at the apartment on February 1, 2017 to pay the outstanding rent.

Wednesday February 1, 2017 – We met with John and Agostino at our unit to pay back rent and to discuss the issue of repairs. There was the usual obfuscation and evasion from John when trying to set up the meeting (AR 06 and AR 07).

It’s all part of John’s way of dealing with life: Create confusion, then exploit it. He gaslights constantly.

The video of that meeting is (Vid 05).

The SD card in the camera was full about 50 minutes into the meeting, so the camera turned itself off. However, the entire conversation was also recorded in audio, and the last 15 minutes of conversation has been added to the end of the video (audio only).

The last nine minutes of the conversation are important later.

During that conversation, John stated (21:40) that “I don’t do paper. Because I think paper between two people is so impersonal”, when asked to give us Notice of Entry in writing (as required under the RTA). Pretty thin excuse.

When asked if he had any interest in settling the issues before a hearing, John’s answer was “What’s there to settle?” and refused. (At this point, we had Compliance Orders for some of the requested repairs, which means we had already proved maintenance deficiencies in the unit. There was plenty to settle.) He also said that he hadn’t read our previous letters (24:00-24:20). John’s explanation of why he would not do work on the windows was ludicrous (24:30-26:20) (Briefly, John claimed that he asked for an extension on the work because he didn’t want the apartment cold due to the window being out of the frame for the hour it took to repair the window. He claimed the delay was out of concern for us, since we were “complaining about the heat”. It seems to have escaped him that any reasonable person would tolerate a brief cold spell in order to correct the problem.)

When asked if John had investigated the water pressure problem, he said “I called the city”. When asked if he had done anything beyond that, he said no. (32:20).

When asked if Agostino had an interest in the building, John became very hostile and rude (36:45) and told me to shut up. He then made an offer of a $10 per month rent abatement in lieu of replacing the refrigerator. I’m not fond of being told to “shut up” in my own living room, and almost threw him out right then and there. But I didn’t.

John also asked again to be allowed access to the unit without notice going forward, and was visibly annoyed and argues when we refused (46:40). He then said “if you’re going to play it this way, I want it in writing that you want this {the repairs} done”. It seems to have escaped him completely that we had already sent him four letters at this point requesting repairs and/or information required under the RTA.

John indicated that he had found our repair requests “foolish” and “stupidity” (47:15) and had tossed them aside after glancing at them.

John also makes a big deal out of the fact that he has installed lifts in some of the windows. The lifts cost $2 each, and are installed by screwing in two small screws. It takes less than five minutes to install lifts on a window. That is the only repair John has done beyond what he was ordered to do by the City of Hamilton. In other words, it’s a very minor repair. It was also a message that John wouldn’t be repairing or replacing the (badly decayed and warped) window sills.

During the entire conversation, John is abusive, antagonistic and manipulative. He refers to the fact that Cora (from Unit 2 on the other side of the building) has been provided with a new kitchen floor, but doesn’t tell us that Cora’s father installed the floor (AR 08) (John simply provided the materials).

That was John’s way of letting us know that “good” tenants were rewarded, and those who complained got nothing. However, the new floor in Ms Mitchel’s kitchen was long overdue and John would very likely have lost against Ms Mitchell’s T6 application. He didn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart, in other words.

Fig 034 – img_2103-1.jpg

Around 35 minutes into the video, John tries to avoid the topic of a written agreement about the electricity by saying “…that will be discussed. I already talked to the adjudicator about that. I agreed on the phone, that yes, I would cover the hydro…the difference in that. Did I not agree with her?” John is quite experienced in LTB matters and knows that anything said in mediation (which a Case Management Hearing is considered) is private, and cannot be used in Tribunal. (I know this because John told me so in a conversation on June 28,2017). In other words, the fact that he promised the adjudicator that he would pay the difference is no guarantee since it can’t even be mentioned in a later LTB action, or so John believes. However, as I understand it, there are exceptions to the mediation privilege and John might be wrong about that. As the hearings progress, we may see. John told a lot of provable and deliberate lies in that hearing and as far as I know, everyone in that hearing was affirmed.

There are a number of instances where John tries to misinform us about LTB practices and procedures, especially to do with disclosure of evidence.

Thursday February 2, 2017 and Friday February 3,2017 – When Agostino entered the apartment for repairs on February 2 and 3, 2017, Marie recorded parts of their conversation, as did I (AR 03).

AR 03 – 2017-02-02 1255 Ball Auggy while he was fixing stuff February 2,2017

During conversation with my roomate, Agostino states “Many times…many times he’s lied” {in reference to John’s promise to replace the carpets}. Agostino also states “John’s just a prick, a regular prick. He’ll never change.” (4:07) Agostino also stated “It was his fault that you went to file because he wasn’t listening.” (6:08). At 7:45, Agostino says “John is probably the king of that {slumlords}” in reference to John’s business practices as a landlord. At 8:45, Agostino comments that “You have a lot of broken windows…it’s not just one, there’s a lot…there’s way, way too many.” At 9:00 Marie says “…he {John} says that we are foolish and stupid” {in reference to our written repair requests} to which Agostino replies “He says that to everybody”.

At 15:55, Marie says {paraphrasing John about repairs} “Oh, I’m doing what I have to.”, to which Agostino replies “That’s him. Exactly. Now you know what he’s about.”

Agostino agreed to provide whatever materials he can to do repairs, and agrees that his brother is in the wrong. (21:50) Agostino also states that he did not consult John before replacing the stove, which explains John’s complaints about the matter during the case management hearing. (Briefly, John claimed there was nothing wrong with the stove, but he had replaced it anyway to try and “make them happy”. Here is a picture of the stove in question,

Fig 035 – kitchen-stove-door-showing-scorch-marks-after-cleaning-2016-12-23.jpg

and a meat thermometer that was melted because the thermostat in the stove had malfunctioned.)

Fig 036 – melted-meat-thermometer-caused-by-malfunctioning-thermostat-2017-02-08.jpg

(22:00) Agostino states that Richard “…won’t side with anybody. He’s afraid of John…everybody’s scared of that idiot.” This point becomes important later, as Richard proves to be subservient to John’s wishes. There will be some discussion in later posts about why, and how Richard is representative of one of the common responses to prolonged bullying. Richard goes along to get along.

Agostino states “The reason you’re here {meaning involved in a tribunal action} is he {John} doesn’t listen. He doesn’t hear.” (26:30-27:10) At 27:30 in the same conversation, Agostino acknowledges that the boiler likely needs more work.

After finishing work for the day, Agostino went to the Canadian Tire store a few blocks away and returned with some of the painting materials Marie had asked him for during the day.

Fig 93 – 20170202_171230

Friday February 3, 2017 – I had another meeting with Cora about a tenant’s association. The notes are here (Doc 057). One point I did not put in the notes was Cora’s complaint about the rotting wood in her deck. A few days later, when I was looking up at it, a piece of the wood fell and hit me on the shoulder. It wasn’t a big deal, but clearly repairs were needed. I told Cora I would submit a complaint to bylaw, which I did.

Since John had asked for the electricity bills we had to date, we sent him another letter on February 3, 2017 (Doc 058):

03 February 2017

Mr. John Cerino

#1-6 Acorn St,

Hamilton, ON L8L 5Y6

Mr. Cerino;

As requested, please find copies of our latest, and highest, electricity invoice.

As discussed, we will call you for any repairs that require expenditure of funds. A written copy of any repair requests will be left with y-our caretaker, Richard, at the time of that phone call.

We regret that you found previous letters from us “foolish and stupid” and that you “tossed them aside” after glancing at them briefly.

Your offer of a settlement consisting of you “trying to get the work done” and a $10/month rent abatement going forward instead of replacing the refrigerator is refused.

As agreed, we will be making arrangements with Augustino in the next few days to shut off power to our unit briefly, as part of verifying that none of the building utilities are metered through our suite. We felt this was necessary, as having building utilities metered through suite meters has been an issue for other tenants.

Sincerely;

Marie Ball & Paul Bosch

On the same day, Agostino entered the apartment, and installed new locks on most of the windows.

Saturday February 4, 2017 – Agostino cut power to our unit and he and I walked through the building to verify that nothing in the building was metered through our unit. This was a concern since Richard had told us that John had wired the foyer lights through the meter in his (Richard’s) unit.

Monday February 6, 2017 – Agostino entered the apartment without Notice of Entry to begin repairs on the windows. My roomate and he had a conversation about the carpets before he left (AR 09).

My roomate also asked Agostino about paint supplies, which Agostino agrees to provide. He later informed us that he had done so without his brother’s knowledge or permission.

I submitted another complaint to Property Standards through their web site. That resulted in another visit by Donna May Lord (Doc 059) on February 17, 2017. An Order to Comply, Property Standards Order No. 17-104117 00 MLE (Doc 060) resulted from that visit.

This wasn’t intended as a provocation. I’d been increasingly involved in tenant advocacy, and one of the questions that arose during a meeting was ‘How effective is Property Standards in Hamilton at enforcing maintenance standards?’ I volunteered John to find out because a) there were a LOT of property standards issues on the property; and b) it was becoming increasingly clear that John would not conduct repairs unless he was ordered to do so by the city, which meant that we’d have to make the complaints to get the work done anyway.

I had a long list of Property Standards violations in and around the building but only complained about a few of them. I was curious how the city would handle multiple (justified) complaints against a single landlord. In this case the complainant (me) was never contacted and never informed that a compliance order had been written. Then again, none of the deficiencies in this complaint were both new and complaints about our unit. I do think some contact with the complainant would have been appropriate. Property Standards are quite good about keeping the landlord informed. Not so much with tenants.)

Tuesday February 7, 2017 – Agostino delivered some paint supplies.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 – We delivered another letter for our landlord (Doc 061) to Richard. This letter asked for a copy of the lease John had claimed to have, and acknowledged receipt of the painting supplies Agostino had delivered. It also (again) reminded John that we wanted notice of entry to be in writing.

08 February 2017

Mr. John Cerino

#1-6 Acorn St,

Hamilton, ON L8L 5Y6

Mr. Cerino;

We acknowledge receipt of 4 gallons of paint (3 blue, 1 white), 1 gallon of primer, 1 container of drywall compound (mud), 1 paint can opener, 1 mixing stick and 4 tubes of latex caulking on February 2, 2017. Ms Ball requested supplies from Agostino on Feb 2, and he delivered them the same day. Ms Ball has begun work on repairing the living room walls, baseboards and door trim in preparation for painting.

On February 4,2017 your brother Agostino cut power to our unit and walked us through the building to satisfy us that none of the building utilities are metered through our suite meter. We felt this was necessary because the hall light had been metered through the suite meter in Unit 1, and we were not willing to trust your verbal assurances after the experience of the tenant in Unit 1. You and Augostino both seemed unaware that was an offence under the Residential Tenancies Act, which caused us some further concern.

We also asked Agostino about receiving a copy of our lease, which was never provided. He stated that he has no access to paperwork for the building and cannot help. As requested in our letter of January 31, please forward a copy of that document to us no later than 13 February, 2017. As well, we request that you give us the legal name(s) and address(es) of the entity or persons from whom we are renting the unit at 99 East Ave South, in writing, by 13 February, 2017.

On the subject of offences under the Residential Tenancies Act, we have noted that every conversation with you that you have said “if you don’t like it here, move” or words to that effect. We remind you that is an offence under the RTA to threaten a tenant, interfere with a tenant, or pressure a tenant to move out of a rental unit. We have no intention of moving. It is our intention to force you to do the repairs needed in our unit, and the building, rather than move.

Towards that end, we have contacted other tenants of yours at other properties with the objective of forming a tenants association. Comments made by one of those tenants indicates you have been interfering with that effort. We remind you that it is an offence under the RTA to try to prevent a tenant from forming a tenants’ association or taking part in one. Any interference in our efforts to form a tenant’s association will be met with aggressive legal action.

We remind you that we will be unavailable to monitor repairs on the dates February 9, 2017 to February 19, 2017, and that both you and your brother have agreed that no repair work will be done during this time. The rear door to the unit has not yet been repaired or replaced (as per Property Standards Order No. 17-100489 00 PS).

Lastly, we are still very concerned that you asked to enter our unit without notice for the purpose of repairs when you were there to collect the rent on February 1, and were visibly annoyed and argued when we refused. Conversations with current and former tenants lead us to believe that it is your custom to demand entry to tenants units without notice. Any entry by you, your agents, or your employees without proper notice will result in a criminal complaint, as well as possible other legal action.

Sincerely;

Sunday February 12, 2017 – I called John to get some clarity on the issue of a fixed term lease (AR 10). John was antagonistic and evasive. A transcript of the conversation follows:

John: Hello
Peter: Hi John, it’s Paul Bosch.
John: What can I do for you?
Peter: I was wondering if you’re going to give me a copy of the lease that you claim to have?
John: Ah, that’ll be presented at Tribunal when I bring all the papers, okay?
Peter: Well, that’s independent from the Tribunal matter, you’re supposed to provide that witin 21 days of us moving into the unit. Ah, so are you going to give us…
John {talking over Peter}: Uh, yeah, I’m gonna provide all the information I have at Tribunal and you go pick it up. It’s available to you before the date of the court. Just like I have to go pick up all of your stuff. Okay? That’s {indistinct}
Peter: No, no. The lease is independent of this. Okay? We do not recall signing a lease, and you claim to have one.
John: Yup.
Peter: If you have one, you were supposed to have provided us a copy of that within twenty one days of us moving in.
John: I…I didn’t see that. Where’s it say that?
Peter: Uh, it is…let me see…in the Residential Tenancy Act, it’s uh….section 12, Every written tenancy agreement entered into on or after June 17, 1998 shall set out the legal name and address of the landlord to be used for the purpose of giving notices or other documents under this Act. {John tries to interrupt} Hang on… If a tenancy agreement entered into on or after June 17, 1998 in writing, which you claim we did, the landlord shall give a copy of the agreement, signed by the tenant and…signed by the landlord and the tenant, to the tenant within 21 days after the tenant signs it and gives it to the landlord. That’s right in the residential tenancy act. Now would you just give us a copy of the lease please?. If you actually have one.
John: If I can find it I’ll give it to you, okay?
Peter: Well, you had it for the mediation.
John: If I can find it I will give it to you.
Peter: Is that a yes or a no, John?
John: Didn’t I just say if I can find it I will give it to…
Peter {talking over John}: If you can find it. All right. While we’re on the subject, why don’t you tell me what the terms of that lease were, just so I know.
John: Well…I don’t know, I have to look for it.
Peter: Was it a fixed term or month to month tenancy, John?
John: I had it in my hand when I was talking to youse uh, on the trib…the people in the Tribunal. The thing is, if I can find it I’ll bring it over. I haven’t got time to play with you right now, I’m busy working. And, uh, what I’d like to find. I just gave you an answer. If I can find it…understand English?…I will give it to you.
Peter: You were required to give it to us within twenty one days. We’ve asked for it more than twenty one days ago, and I’ve asked for it in a number of letters.
John: Good bye.
Peter: Don’t talk over me Sir.

So I called Agostino (AR 11). Agostino told me there was no fixed term lease.

Tuesday February 14, 2017 – Agostino also left a message for Marie on her voicemail, verifying there was no lease (AR 12).

Thursday February 16, 2017 – I called Agostino and let him know that our electricity bill had arrived, and to make arrangements to pay the difference between the $500 we held back, and the difference in the electricity bills. Agostino said that he was not permitted by John to pick up rent, or to write a receipt for rent. Agostino instructed me to contact John in regards to the outstanding rent.

So I did, and at the same time asked John to have an independent HVAC contractor assess the heat situation in the building. He refused.

Friday February 17, 2017 – We delivered another letter to Richard (Doc 062) addressed to John. The requested electricity invoices were attached to the letter. Richard asked me to use the front door only when coming and going from the unit, and to pass that information along to Marie. When I asked him why, he told me he “don’t like people peekin’ in my window”. After asking a few more questions (during which Pollington became increasingly hostile and belligerent) it became clear to me that he was objecting to our use of the back stairs because it ran right by the window in question. That window was covered in plastic on the inside. When I pointed out to Richard that no one could see anything inside the room from outside because of the plastic, he became very hostile and repeated his demand that we use the front stairs only. I told him to put a curtain on his window and left. After the plastic was removed in late spring, there was a blind in the window, but as late as summer of 2019 Richard Pollington would continue to insist (from time to time) that I not use the back stairs to my unit.

This letter asks for the landlord’s legal name and address, discussion of the repairs, and gives John the numbers he needs to prepare a receipt for the outstanding rent (minus the agreed upon abatement to compensate for the heaters use of electricity.) John is also informed that his behavior in our unit was unacceptable, and is warned he will be asked to leave if it happens again.

Monday February 20, 2017 – We’d heard nothing from our landlord, so I called him to arrange delivery of our disclosure. The recordings are (AR 13AR 14 and AR 15). John was antagonistic and hostile; nothing was accomplished.

I then called Agostino to arrange delivery of the disclosure, and to make arrangements to pay the rent (AR 16). Agostino tries to excuse John’s erratic behavior by saying “You never know what happens with him…he’s diabetic). Agostino says he can’t accept disclosure without checking with John. That seemed odd for a co-landlord, which was what we had been told was Agostino’s role in the building.

A transcript of that conversation (Doc 062.5) follows:


Agostino: Hello
Peter: Hi Agostino
Agostino: How you doin’?
Peter Not bad. It’s Paul Bosch from xx Avenue South.
Agostino: How you doin’ Paul?
Peter: Pretty good. Ah, I called…
Agostino: What can I do for you?
Peter: Well, I called your brother earlier today to make arrangements for him to come pick up his rent, he told me to call him back after five, now he won’t answer his phone. So,,,ah
Agostino: He may be sleeping. You never know with him, he’s so diabetic, eh?
Peter: Okay, well, for whatever reason we have the disclosure available to you. We’d like you to come pick it up because it has…
Agostino: What’s that?
Peter: We have the disclosure to you.
Agostino: Okay.
Peter: We’d like you to come pick it up.
Agostino: All right.
Peter: As well as come pick up the rent for February.
Agostino: Okay, that’s not a problem, eh?
Peter: Okay. Can you and your brother be by here sometime at a reasonable hour this evening? Your brother’s playing games again Agostino and I’m not happy with it.
Marie: His message…his message said…
Agostino: I can call.
Peter: All right.
Agostino: But I can’t see I can be up there with him though, so I {indistinct}. Okay?
Peter: Would you please make arrangements to come and get your rent, accept the disclosure…
Agostino: John has to come get the rent. Okay? But it doesn’t have to be today.
Peter: Yes, it does.
Marie: The disclosure has to be today, it was said in mediation. Today is the date.
Peter: And your brother…
Agostino: They’re not even open. What are they open today?
Peter: No, they’re not. We have to make it available to you.
Agostino: Oh, okay.
Peter: We can give it to you Agostino, that’s no problem. He’s got you down as a landlord.
Agostino: That’s true.
Marie: But we can give it to you.
Agostino: But I have to call him and ask him about it, all right?
Marie: Okay.
Peter: That would be fine.
Agostino: I have to do what he says. Okay, not a problem. All right?
Peter: Okay.
Agostino: Bye now.

A few minutes later, he called me back (AR 17). He couldn’t reach John, and promised to call back. Agostino instructs us to give the disclosure to Richard Pollington, and agrees to have rent receipts provided when rent is paid, not days later. Richard Pollington had refused to provide a receipt for rent on several occasions at this point.

An hour and some minutes later, I called Agostino back to let him know what was going on and to make him aware that he and others would be recorded while in our unit (AR 18). A transcript of the conversation (Doc 39.2) follows:

Peter: Hello. It’s Paul Bosch again from 99 east ave south

A: Hi Paul

P: Hi

A: Oay.

P: Just to bring you up to date on what’s going on, since your brother doesn’t seem to want to speak to us…

A: Nah, he’ll talk to you on Wednesday he said {indistinct} don’t worry about it

P: Okay. All right. You said that…

A: John {indistinct} couple days difference, no problem. It’s not like you created it, right?

P: All right. We did…

A: Right?

P: Okay, We did…uh…we did drop off a copy of the disclosure with Richard.

A: Okay, that’s good.

P: And we do have some documents here for you as well.

A: Okay, not a problem, I’ll probably come by tomorrow to see you anyway because I have to uh give you a buzz again, notice to let you know that I have work {indistinct}

P: Okay, uh what time will you be coming by tomorrow roughly to serve that notice? Do you know?

A: Ah I’ll try and come in the morning for you, if it’s not good in the morning I can come in the evening, your choice.

Marie: I can wait in the morning.

A: Either way, okay?

P: Okay. Morning would be best, yes.

A: Okay, I’ll try and come in the morning. And if I do forget, give me a reminder call or something please? {indistinct} sidetracked. Okay?

P: Okay. One more thing that you should know Agostino. I mentioned it in the letter and there’s a copy of that here for you.

A: Right.

P: Everything that has been said or done in this apartment

A: Right

P: has been under video and audio surveillance.

A: That’s fine. I got nothing to hide.

P: All right. But…going forward there’s a camera running all the time.

A: That’s fine, but you should have disclosed that before you started it. I mean, that’s not uh…that’s not uh you know that’s like trapping people, that’s not good. {indistinct} anybody? Know what I mean?

P: Your brother has told quite a number of lies, and…

A; I know that. I know what you’re sayin’…

P: I have no…no…

A: If somebody cornered you like that you’d be very defensive too, you know that right?

Marie: Not if I was telling the truth. If you’re tellin’ the truth, no.

P: No.

A: Even if you’re tellin’ the truth you’d like to know. You know what I mean?

P: In your brother’s case, that was impossible. He wouldn’t put it in writing and I needed some record of it. All of those recordings were done…

A: I’m not saying you’re not allowed to use it, …

P: It’s all admissible, we’ve run it past a lawyer, you have copies of the audio and video recordings on the disc. Uh, would you like your own copy?

A: I don’t need that. This is mostly concerning John.

P: Okay.

A: {indistinct}

P: I am telling you this now, and going forward this will be the case, and in your case I’ll apologize for it. Not to your brother though. All right? Your brother forced me to this, I had no choice.

A: All right. But like I said, you gotta do what you gotta do, I already told you that before. I can’t..I can’t change anything, you know?

P; Okay, just so you’re aware.

A: I can’t force him to do nothin’, you know that.

P: I know. Okay, I’m sorry about all this Agostino. Have yourself a nice evening.

A: You too. Bye now.

Agostino states “That’s fine, I got nothing to hide.” (1:45 in the recording) in response to being told he would be recorded. Agostino also says we should have disclosed the video surveillance (in our apartment) in advance. He’s wrong about that. There is no legal requirement to tell anyone that they are under video surveillance while they are in your home. Or audio, for that matter. Especially when the recording devices are in plain view. When I say “your brother has told quite a number of lies”, Agostino replies “I know that”. At this point, I believe Agostino was doing his best to deal with the complications his brother was creating. Agostino doesn’t start acting like a sleazy slumlord until later in this story.

All of this appears to be a deliberate attempt by John to avoid disclosure by the date specified in the Interim Order written after the Case Management Hearing on January 23, 2017 (Doc 52). It didn’t work. I delivered a copy of our disclosure to Richard Pollington, our landlords’ agent. Richard was openly hostile and derogatory, and one of his roomates Larry Norman (also a caretaker of our landlords’ building) advised me to “throw it in the garbage because you’re being evicted anyway”.  This was the beginning of our landlord’s attempts to make the necessary steps in an LTB application as legally and personally hazardous and unpleasant as possible.

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