2014 Villain: Akelius
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2014 Villain: Akelius

Nominated for: aggressively invading vulnerable neighbourhoods.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 5 p.m. on December 30. At noon on December 31, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Akelius v

Pass by 160 Huron Street, just south of College, and you’ll see the scars of construction. They aren’t new: the work has been going on since Akelius, a Swedish property developer, bought the unit a few years ago. According to tenants, the company immediately began replacing balconies, but stopped taking out the garbage. Light bulbs burnt out and were never replaced, and broken laundry machines were never fixed.

Tenants at different Akelius properties tell a similar tale: when Akelius moves in, maintenance work on individual units stops. On-site landlords are nonexistent, replaced by a centralized phone number: few have ever received a response. When frustrated tenants move out, Akelius revamps the empty units with modern furnishings and then offer them up at higher rents.

The company is now pushing its way into Parkdale, a neighbourhood home to many vulnerable residents. It purchased four buildings there in 2013, but it wasn’t until this year that media began investigating the company and tenants became a little more vocal. According to one Redditor, “It honestly feels like the strategy is to make life a living hell for current tenants for so long that no one can stand it anymore.”