Landlord guilty of health, safety violations
Notorious Montreal landlord Claudio Di Giambattista was absent for his trial in municipal court today, but that didn't stop the judge from declaring him guilty on all counts of safety and health violations.
Judge Stéphane Brière decided to let the trial go ahead without the landlord present. After he and the crown went through almost two hours of evidence including a pile of photos, he found Di Giambattista guilty of 86 health and safety violations in connection with his two apartment buildings on Ball and Outremont in Park Extension.
The judge also found him guilty of three counts of obstructing a city inspector and four counts of shutting off the water at his building on Stuart.
The judge imposed roughly $50,000 in fines on Di Giambattista, to be paid in 30 days.
Tenants were forced out of the buildings on Ball and Outremont last spring after the city shut them down following complaints of mould, rodents and cockroaches.
The large colour photos entered into evidence prompted the judge to heave heavy sighs, raise his eyebrows, shake his head, throw up his hands and at one point saying he'd never seen anything like this in all years on the bench. The judge showed one photo to the court of a bucket suspended by a clothes hanger catching water from a leaky ceiling. He referred to rodents and insects in other photos.
André Trépanier, spokesman for the Park Extension Action Committee, said they are pleased with the ruling and penalty.
"Finally it's sending a good message saying that we have to take care of our buildings, because if you (violate the bylaws as badly as Di Giambattista did), your building can be closed, you can lose your income from the building, also get fined and also get sued at the Rental Board by the tenants," Trépanier told CJAD 800 News.
Trépanier said if Di Giambattista doesn't pay the fines, he hopes the city can seize the buildings and turn them into much-needed social housing.
Photos: La Presse, Claude Beaulieu