Last month, a CBC News exclusive shed light on international students complaining of bed bugs, cockroaches and rats at a Sudbury, Ont., rental home on Bond Street that was converted from three to seven bedrooms.
Now, at least a dozen students at a nearby second property owned by the same landlord are said to be living in a converted rooming house that’s been described as “deplorable” and “unsafe.”
Chinmoy Kar Victor, one of the eight students who were living in the Bond Street home, spoke to CBC News in late May on how they were dealing with cramped and difficult living conditions.
The students had all agreed to provide a portion of first and last month’s rent after seeing pictures in an online rental ad for a three-bedroom property. When they demanded their money back, the landlord refused.
Shortly after the story was published, international students from the other converted rooming house, on Clinton Avenue, came to see Victor and his housemates, he said.
“There were tenants … actually gathered together in our house to thank us because we stepped forward. They actually felt the same, but they were not in the situation to bring this forward,” said Victor, who moved from Bangladesh to Canada in 2019 to go to Memorial University in Newfoundland, and came to Sudbury last month for a work placement toward his engineering degree.
He said the students at the Clinton Avenue home are also dealing with bed bug and cockroach issues.
CBC attempted to speak to the tenants at the Clinton Street house, but they were fearful of the repercussions for coming forward, so Victor relayed their concerns.
CBC has confirmed both properties belong to Banibrata Roy.
Despite leaving multiple phone, email and WhatsApp messages, the property owner never responded to requests for an interview.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he is a professor at a university in Pennsylvania. He had worked at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sudbury between 2019 and 2020.
‘Same appalling conditions’
Victor and his housemates are among the 622,000 international students studying in Canada, a big growth from the 248,000 here 10 years ago.
He and the other students at the residence they shared expressed concerns last month that they were being taken advantage of because they were new to Canada and don’t know Canadian laws or Ontario tenant rights.
Sudbury Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said she visited the tenants at the Bond Street address, and found out about the second house only a couple blocks away, on Clinton Avenue, where the dozen students are living.
“This other property had also been flagged for property standards, and it just so happens it’s property No. 2 in the same area” with the “same appalling conditions.”
Landry-Altmann said the tenants at the Clinton Avenue property allowed her inside.
“What I saw in the other property in the Flour Mill [district] is deplorable living conditions — deplorable and actually unsafe.”
Unconnected to the concerns over the two properties, a public meeting was held May 19 to discuss overcrowded and/or neglected rooming houses and absentee landlords in Greater Sudbury.
The meeting was requested by Landry-Altmann and Coun. Al Sizer since both learned of such rooming houses in their respective wards.
Landry-Altmann wants to see the city crack down on residences converted to rooming houses and property standard violations.
“Slumlords are being looked at more closely, and we will address them one by one,” she said.
Neighbours who may have issues can file complaints to Greater Sudbury’s switchboard by calling 311.
Full inspections at Bond Street
According to Victor, full inspections were conducted at the Bond Street house by city fire, building and bylaw services, as well as public health.
“They did the inspection and took their pictures,” he said.
“They have confirmed that they have found bed bugs, presence of rats, presence of cockroaches, definitely, and lots of other stuff … it was just makeshift bathrooms and small bedrooms.”
Neither the city nor public health would comment since an investigation is still underway.
“We won’t speak to specifics about a certain property,” said Stefany Mussen, manager of corporate security and bylaw services at the City of Greater Sudbury.
“I wouldn’t be able to give any specific information relating to that property at this time just because the investigation is ongoing.”
On the front door of the Bond Street address, there’s a Greater Sudbury Fire Services notice listing eight violations found during its inspection May 26. The notice states a work order must be completed by Sept. 26.
Mussen said there could be further orders, given the active investigation at the property.
A spokesperson for the city confirmed inspections were conducted by fire, building and bylaw services at the Clinton Avenue address as well.
No more lost money
Victor said six of the eight tenants on Bond Street have found other accommodations since the CBC story last month. He said two remaining tenants are looking for other housing, but they gave larger amounts of rent to the landlord so can’t afford anything else right now.
None of the tenants have received any money back from the landlord.
“For me I have to factor my health over the money. That’s why I have to move out. But me being an international student and in this expensive city, I don’t want to lose any money on that landlord anymore,” Victor said.
He said he’s still concerned this landlord will continue to take advantage of international students coming to Sudbury or Canada for the first time.
“I feel like he’s going to do the same, he’s going to repeat it, and this was one of my biggest concerns.”
Morning North6:56More international students in Sudbury are coming forward saying they were scammed by their landlord