Toronto, Canada - Two Jewish Schools Owe $1 Million in Back Rent
Toronto, Canada - Two Orthodox Jewish schools that rent Toronto school board property owe back rent of nearly $1 million between them.
John Campbell, chair of the Toronto District School Board, said they reached a deal about 10 years ago under which the two groups would pay off the backlog when they bought the buildings.
But twice, he said, the groups have had “cash flow problems” and were unable to complete the purchase.
During that time, Sheila Cary-Meagher, school trustee for Beaches-East York, watched the figures rise. She said “private little schools” tend to be unreliable tenants.
“Three-quarters of a million bucks in back rent. How crazy is that?” she asked.
The unpaid rent highlights the awkward situation faced by the Toronto board, which seeks to gain profit from its properties without evicting private organizations serving those communities.
Both organizations are Orthodox Jewish day schools for boys.
Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah, which rents out Glen Rush Public School near Bathurst St. and Lawrence Ave. W., owes $701,700 in back rent to the board. Yeshiva Bnei Tzion of Bobov owes $251,190 on Champlain Public School, near Bathurst and Wilson Ave.
Campbell said the board prefers not to evict tenants when they are providing a service to a community, but did not rule out evicting non-paying organizations.
“Although we’re prepared to be compassionate and fair with our tenants, that does not mean they should feel they are in a position to take advantage of us.”
A man at Yeshiva Bnei Tzion, who refused to give his name but identified himself as the director, said the organization has always had trouble making rent. Donors are hesitant to cover operating expenses because they see them as unglamorous, he said. Donors, he added, like plaques.
When asked how an organization that cannot pay its own rent can afford to buy the building that houses it as well as cover more than $250,000 in back rent, he replied: “It’s hard to meet the rent but it’s not hard to buy a building. ... All donors love giving money to bricks and mortar.”
Rabbi Asher Bornstein at Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah was hesitant to speak in detail about the deal. “There has been a lot of negotiations going on for years ... it’s almost over,” he said.
Campbell conceded these two properties are failing to make money when they should, and that property values have decreased almost 15 percent since the original deal. He said interest lost on the payments is inconsequential.
Under the agreement, the two tenants’ rent arrears would be added to the actual cost of the buildings in the eventual sale. Campbell, said the schools have given assurances they would be able to fundraise to purchase the buildings outright in the future.
The schools would have to raise money to cover rent they were unable to afford previously and to pay for the buildings’ actual costs, which the board would not release, in the middle of an international financial crisis and recession.
More of today's headlines“Review of the show by www.jewishmusicreport.com New York - From the moment you walk up to Madison Square Garden you see that it’s a whole different level then...” New York - The Event Concert Hailed As Huge Victory for Jewish Music “Paris - The Rabbinical Center of Europe's Rabbinical Authority will host a conference of more than 300 European rabbis in Paris on Monday, amid growing concern over the...” Paris - European Rabbis: Assimilation Of Jews Now A Bigger Threat Than Anti-Semitism And Terrorism