Parkdale tenants win big

 
ParkTales
 
'United, Organized, Together We Can Win'
 
By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

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The Following Report is from Parkdale Organize (parkdaleorganize@gmail.com)  a group in Parkdale organizing to fight back against greedy off shore landlords who are buying up property in Parkdale and pushing out sitting tenants so that they can jack up rents and change who can afford to live in Parkdale.

Akelius is one of these off shore companies, owning buildings in Sweden, Germany, the UK, and Canada with billions in assets and hundreds of millions in annual profits and based in the Bahamas.

The tenants in Toronto's Parkdale Akelius buildings have been organizing and fighting back against this unscrupulous landlord who has taken away their superintendents, raised their rent above the provincial guidelines, neglected to do repairs, and intimidated tenants. 

All levels of governments have been talking about affordable housing. We don’t have to wait for this happen. We can start now by cracking down on landlords like Akelius and Metcap that are reducing affordable housing. The provincial government must bring back real rent control so that families are not forced out of their homes by ever increasing high rents.

Below is a report that shows when united and organized, tenants can win.

I was so excited and proud of my Parkdale tenants I want to share with you their victory.

My Parkdale

                                              Parkdale vs Aklius

Organize and Win: 188 Jameson tenants beat back rent increase by half

Wednesday 29 April, Parkdale tenants walked into the Landlord and Tenant Board with heads held high, their confidence born of the organizing they took up in their buildings duing the past year. The day began with tenants speaking to a rally of about one hundred of their neighbours and supporters from across the city, all of whom have been following their work and inspired by their struggle. By the time legal proceedings got underway the hearing rooms were packed.

 The Superintendent Case

Tenants from four Akelius buildings in Parkdale (99 Tyndall, 95 Jameson, 77 Spencer, and 188 Jameson) have a group legal action against Akelius for removing the superintendents from their buildings. Yesterday was their second hearing date. For the second time, Akelius tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that superintendents are not considered a “service” under the legislation, and again their motion failed. Unfortunately, because it is a group case with many tenants involved, the Board continued to make it difficult for the tenants to present their evidence. The case was adjourned to a date in the summer.

 Above guideline rent Increase at 188 Jameson

The 188 Jameson tenants were the clear winners yesterday. Having spent the past year organizing with their neighbours, knocking on doors in the building, holding meetings and making decisions together, they came to the Board in a position of strength. Akelius had a solid case to raise tenants’ rent by 10% above the guideline justified by ‘capital repairs’ it had made to the building including to the roof, elevator, common areas, and balconies. The fact that before the tenants even walked into the Board their landlord was making noises about withdrawing parts of its application proves the effectiveness of the tenants’ organizing.

The Landlord and Tenant Board is an institution that works to intimidate and isolate tenants. On top of this the 188 Jameson tenants knew that if the case went before the tribunal a 7-8% increase would be the most likely outcome. Even still, the tenants held their ground throughout the negotiations and rejected the landlord’s initial offers to settle. Confronted with a group of organized working class tenants the landlord began to show its frustration. At one point, after being turned down by the tenants, Akelius responded saying they “didn’t know what to do with these people.”

At the end of the day Akelius conceded to a 4.5% increase over three years (1.2% in 2014, 1.6% in 2015, and 1.7% 2016). Akelius also gave in to the demand not to bring applications for above guideline increases in the next two years and agreed to allow tenants up to six months to pay any rent they owe due to the increase.

This is a big victory for tenants in Parkdale. The tenants at 188 Jameson have shown that when we’re organized and fight back together we can win, even when up against a multi-billion dollar real estate company like Akelius and a notoriously landlord-friendly Landlord and Tenant Board.

The tactics that these tenants have used in their struggle, whether crashing the Akelius office, making statements to the media, or fighting at the tribunal, have been effective because the tenants have organized themselves in their buildings. If we are to defend Parkdale from landlords like Akelius and MetCap it’s up to tenants in every building in the neighbourhood to do the same. 

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