The home owner says the tenants did not show COVID-19 symptoms and were self-isolating due to close contact with a positive case
A Toronto real estate agent allowed showings at a home to potential buyers while tenants living in the basement were in self-isolation.
“They are in self-isolation for fourteen days,” says Arifur Shohel, the Toronto real estate agent from HomeLife/Miracle Realty. The listing agent tells NOW, adding the self-isolation period ended on January 21.
“This is already over.”
On January 22, Global News reported that neighbours claimed Shohel showed the East York home while people living inside had COVID-19.
In interviews with NOW, both Shohel and the homeowner, Abdullah Mamun, said that the two tenants did not have COVID-19. One of the tenants was in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, so they were living in government-mandated self-isolation.
“They are healthy and they are going back to work,” he said.
Neighbours Amanda and Rick Govin told Global News reporter Sean O’Shea they were helping the tenants with groceries during their self-isolation. They also said roughly 20 potential buyers visited the home on Thursday.
Shohel says that while there were many bookings to view the home, his office only confirmed two viewings. The agent adds his office cancelled remaining viewings after neighbours called the office to report the situation, which is when he says he first learned about the situation.
Shohel has not yet spoken to Global News.
Neither the Govin Family nor the tenants could be reached for comment for this story.
While open houses are not allowed during lockdown in Ontario, real estate agents can show homes by appointment while following strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“With the title of ‘essential’ comes the responsibility of using our discretion to ensure that we’re keeping everyone as safe as possible,” says NOW’s regular Toronto real estate expert, Odeen Eccleston, broker of record at WE Realty.
In Shohel and Mamun’s case, the situation could be chalked up to miscommunication. Mamun’s tenants were required to “self-isolate until January 21,” according to an email from Toronto Public Health. Mamun says that’s why he waited to put the house up for sale on January 21. He admits that he did not inform Shohel about the situation, assuming the isolation period was over and he was in the clear to sell the home safely.
Eccleston sympathizes with her fellow Toronto real estate agent colleagues’ situation, especially if he was following instructions from the homeowner.
“People really need do everything in their power to be extra pre-cautious because incidents like this can spread like rumors,” she says.
“There’s already people upset that we are essential, that we are out trading. The optics are not good and it increases the distrust that people have in our industry when it comes specifically to how we’re handling this pandemic. We’re already on thin ice.”
The situation with Mamun’s house is also a striking example of how COVID-19 is a heavier burden for BIPOC communities.
Earlier this week, Toronto’s chief medical officer Eileen de Villa said Toronto Public Health data now indicates South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Torontonians have the highest case rates of all ethno-racial groups in the city.
According to Mamun, the tenant and his roommate were required to self-isolate because of a case of COVID-19 at their workplace.
Mamun is a recent immigrant from Bangladesh who works full-time at a factory. He actually lives in a rented apartment nearby at Victoria Park and Danforth with his wife and children aged four and one. He’s speaking to NOW during breaks between virtual classes at the University of Toronto.
Mamun says he purchased the home in 2019 while expecting his second child, born January 2020. But plans to move into the home with a newborn were thwarted by COVID-19 and Mamun’s own kidney dilation.
“In that condition I cannot move in my house,” says Mamun, who says they stayed in the apartment building because his in-laws lived nearby. “I have a helping hand here.”
Mamun’s still waiting for a procedure to remove his kidneys. He is hoping to sell the house so he doesn’t keep the mortgage hanging over his head during this difficult time.