05/03/2012 09:51 EDT | Updated 07/03/2012 05:12 EDT

City evicts tenants in cockroach-infested building

The City of Montreal will finish evicting the remaining residents of a squalid apartment building Friday.

The city recently shut down the cockroach-infested triplex on Ball and d'Outremont Avenues in Parc Extension because it said the building is no longer safe to live in. By Thursday, several apartments were already vacant, and the city began moving people out.

Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension Borough Mayor Anie Samson said the city tried to give the tenants a month's notice, but the fire department was forced to intervene.

"They call us and they say it's too dangerous we have to close it now," said Samson.

The city wants the building's notorious landlord to improve the living conditions in the units. Until that's done, Samson said the city is changing the locks so the landlord can no longer rent out the apartments.

The city says the owner, Claudio di Giambattista, is a well-known slumlord. Last November, the city shut down another one of his buildings in the same borough, and the city has targeted some of his other properties in the past.

Samson said the city is also currently eyeing another building in her borough owned by Giambattista.

Local housing activist, André Trepanier, supports the city's actions.

"We hope that today is a new day with the City of Montreal, that from now (on), the city will act against that kind of owner," said Trepanier.

Seeking new shelter

Carlos Villalobos and his elderly mother packed their things Thursday after being evicted from the Ball Avenue building. The two are planning to move to the local YMCA.

They lived in the building for 8 months, and Villalobos said the landlord refused to do anything about its poor condition.

"Look at that. Cockerelles, look at this, here, here, here, you can see them," said Villalobos.

Besides the cockroaches, Villalobos said there's mould, a leaky ceiling and water running onto exposed wires.