Housing and affordability issues remain one of the top issues people bring forward to my community office. On December 5th, I hosted a town hall for tenants to discuss their concerns about their issues finding and maintaining good housing in the area.
We heard from a victim of renoviction and several tenant advocates about what tenants can do to stand up to unscrupulous landlords. We then moved to neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood breakouts, so that tenants from the same buildings, or houses nearby each other could meet each other and discuss their experiences with their landlords.
Tenants shared concerns about their housing situations: threats of evictions, rent increase, and landlord neglect were the most common topics of discussion. Throughout it all it was clear that the Ford government's changes since coming to office, including the elimination of rent control on new buildings, were taking the housing crisis from bad to worse.
Some of the major issues that we heard from both tenants and advocates were:
- An uptick in evictions and especially mass evictions
- More eviction notices for things other than non-payment of rent (e.g. evictions because the landlord decides family members will be moving into the property or eviction threats for “interfering with others enjoyment of the property”.)
- Above the Guideline Rent Increases being used as a tactic to move low-income tenants out
- An uptick in bogus notices from landlords, especially threatening tenants with notices of eviction that have not actually been filed with the Landlord Tenant Board. Also requests from landlords that tenants change things or do things not required in their lease agreements (e.g. change payment methods, get tenants insurance, etc.) and threatening eviction if they fail to comply.
However, the major takeaway from both the speakers and from the breakout groups was that in order for tenants to get what they need, they need to get organized. There was particular interest from tenants in the Doversquare apartments at Dovercourt and Bloor in getting organized, and a few tenants have committed to knocking on their neighbours’ doors in order to start the process. There was also discussion of starting a broader network of tenants in Davenport, so that tenants in houses and smaller buildings can keep in touch with each other about issues they are facing. We will update the community as this effort progresses.
We were lucky to have been joined by staff from the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, and West Toronto Community Legal Services. Their advice and insight were invaluable. Their organizations also have great resources for tenants to use, and you can access those resources below.
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Tenant Tip Sheets https://www.acto.ca/for-tenants/tip-sheets/
We Can’t Wait Campaign https://www.acto.ca/campaign/wecantwait/
Federation of Metro Tenants Associations
Know Your Rights https://www.torontotenants.org/your_rights
Tenant Hotline: 416-921-9494
West Toronto Community Legal Services
Housing Support Services: https://www.wtcls.org/legal-topic/housing-help/
My colleagues in the Official Opposition NDP Caucus and I are committed to fighting the housing crisis and making sure that people can keep a roof over their heads. We support effective and predictable protections for tenants, including real rent control and a rent registry so tenants know how much their homes were rented for in the past. We also believe the Ford government needs to step up and fund the province’s fair one-third share of funding for social housing repairs.
Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, and no one should live in fear of losing their home, or put up with abuse or substandard living conditions. We need tougher laws to prevent people from being illegitimately “renovicted” from their homes – a massive issue right here in Davenport - and from unreasonable above the guideline rent increases.
At Queen’s Park, my colleague MPP Suze Morrison, the NDP Official Opposition critic for tenant rights, recently tabled the St. James Town Act, which would require landlords to set aside a portion of rent for maintenance and repair and reimburse tenants with rent rebates if the repairs are not made in a timely manner—strengthening maintenance and repair enforcement.
You can count on me to keep up the fight for more affordable housing and better protections for renters in our community.
Thank you to all who joined us at this meeting to share their experiences and work for change.