Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Lesson Learned, Or Maybe Two

You may remember a previous post I did regarding a neighbour with sewage in his basement. Well, I definitely remember the encounter. In fact, I was involved with the issue for three weeks. The involvement was not so much direct involvement as it was indirect, with opinions and accusations.
It turns out that every story has more than one angle to it, and this story is no different.
As terrible as a sewage backup is, sometimes it is the responsibility of the landlord, and sometimes it is that of the tenant. It was explained to me that when a tenant pours grease down a drain and causes the drain to clog, it is not the responsibility of the landlord. And further, if a previous tenant pours the grease and a current tenant has the clog, it is still not the responsibility of the landlord. I never know that. But I did pass that information on to my neighbour in discussing the possible causes of his sewage backup issues.
I also learned another tidbit of information. It seems, after the City By-Laws department visits a house, and after they find By-Law infractions with the house, the issues only have to be fixed prior to habitation when it is a rental unit. The By-Law infractions do not have to be remedied if the residence is owner occupied. I guess that is to protect a tenant who may not know what they are getting into, where an owner of a property is more familiar with the issues of the house, and go in 'eyes open'.
In dealing with the house in question, I spoke with several different departments, and people.
One thing that really stuck in my mind, was that the person, or family, who became homeless, seemed to be the ones who had to facilitate their own recovery. They had to call the landlord regarding the issues in the house. The neighbour contacted the fire department, health department, the movers, the tenant advocate, and their EIA worker. While he appeared to be stressed beyond coping, he was the one who seemed to be expected to make sure everyone who could help him was helping him. Each person or department involved had their own area of responsibility, and their own job to do. But nobody was overseeing the entire picture, except the neighbour, who may not have been able to step up to the task. Or at least thats the way it seemed to me.

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