Parkdale tenants facing eviction after protesting rent hikes
Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017 9:09AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 24, 2017 6:56PM EDT
A group of tenants in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood say they are now facing eviction after going on a rent strike earlier this month.
Spokesperson for the protesting group and an employee of Parkdale Community Legal Services Cole Webber said in a news release issued on Tuesday that the owner of three mid-rise apartment buildings in the area Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has initiated eviction notices to tenants who have refused to pay their rent since the beginning of the month.
Webber said beginning on May 1 200 tenants in six Parkdale apartment buildings commenced a rent strike. They said they would be withholding their rent payments until their concerns about rent hikes and maintenance needs were addressed.
Despite the maximum allowable rent hike without approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board being 1.5 per cent the owner of the buildings is seeking approval to raise rent prices by five per cent. Tenants of the building say this increase is unreasonable due to the poor conditions of their units.
On May 1, the tenants stood outside in the area protesting the rent increases they said were upwards of nine per cent over three years. As well, the protestors said there are much-need repairs in some of the units that have not been addressed.
“AIMCo claims socially responsible investment practices,” he said. “We fail to see what is socially responsible about evicting low-income people from their homes in the middle of a housing crisis.”
A spokesperson with AIMCo, Dénes Nemeth, told CTV News Toronto in an email that their company employs MetCap Living to oversee all aspects of the several buildings they own in Parkdale on their behalf.
“AIMCo has engaged top-tier property managers that operate using best in class processes to effectively manage the buildings, and to conduct appropriate stakeholder engagement and community involvement, on our behalf,” Nemeth said.
Furthermore, Nemeth said that AIMCo has ‘full confidence’ in MetCap Living’s commitment to hold themselves to their high standards.
“AIMCo is a long-term investor, on behalf of our clients, and over the years, has made considerable investments in these properties to address outstanding issues, for the benefit of all tenants.”
However, a tenant at one of the involved buildings located at 87 Jameson Avenue Diane Rajaram said AIMCo is not hearing the tenants out.
“Instead of negotiating, AIMCo wants to evict us,” Rajaram said in the news release. “I don’t believe working Albertans want to see their pension money being used to push my neighbours and I out of our homes.”
Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Wednesday that the best thing the tenants and the building management can do in this situation is sit down and talk about it.
“When it comes to the state of repair of the buildings I would say the initiative rests with the landlord to perhaps convene some sort of meeting or a town hall meeting with those tenants and discuss what some of their concerns are,” Tory said. “Because in return for those rent increases tenants have the right to expect living in accommodations that are reasonably maintained.”
Speaking with CTV News Toronto, Webber said the solution to this problem would be AIMCo directing MetCap, the property manager of the buildings, to withdraw the rent increases.
President and CEO of MetCap Living Brent Merrill told CTV News Toronto that any eviction would still be far down the road as there are no evictions in Ontario without tribunal hearing and no hearing has been set.
He said the notices received are “notice form 4,” which he says is not an “eviction notice.”
As well, Merrill added that the application for above-guidelines rent increases is being done primarily to recuperate the cost of repairs to balconies and railings in the buildings. He said the application is for the maximum increase allowed– three per cent per year for three years. This would be in addition to the 1.5 per cent standard increase allowed by the province, resulting in a total hike of 4.5 per cent per year for three years.