Hard Work pays off with big gains for Toronto tenants

Posted February 6, 2015

On Wednesday, ACORN Canada President Marva Burnett from Scarborough, accompanied by Laurie Simpson (Weston), Heather Powell (Parkdale), and Geri Stevens (East York), met with top executives from Toronto's Municipal License and Standards (MLS) to talk about what they are doing to go after bad landlords in the City.  This resulted from an action they led in December, when ACORN delivered a Christmas gift containing 2,800 complaints from tenants across the city. They said they have kept the gift in their office as a reminder of work to be done. 
 
ACORN has long pushed for real financial punishment for negligent landlords, a proactive inspection system for all apartments, and for the city to do the repairs necessary in apartments buildings, then add the costs of repairs to landlords' tax bill when they refuse to do the work.
 
Here is what gains we have made from our work, and from our allies on council, from MLS:
 
  • MLS has reworked their legal strategy so that landlords will be fined through the Ontario court system if they are in noncompliance with MLS property standards.  A landlord was recently fined over $10,000 for noncompliance of a city order.
  • MLS has moved to more systematically do repairs in buildings when needed, and then send the landlord the bill on the taxes.  This was done to replace boiler heating system in a high-rise just recently, and threatened successfully at 500 Dawes Rd. 
  • Met with the Greater Toronto Apartment Association to inform them of the new penalties for noncompliance.
  • Added 52 buildings where ACORN members live to the list of buildings to be proactively inspected by the MRAB building audit program (a program ACORN won in 2008).
  • Agreed to meet three times a year with ACORN's tenant organizing committee to keep dialogue open and to work with us to improve their policies.
  • They urged all ACORN members living in apartments to continue to call 311 to report any problems in their suites and building common areas.
 
This is a huge success and would not have happened with out the tenacity of ACORN members across the city over the last several years, but especially over the last 14 months. It shows that organizing works, and that people do have power when they move to organized collective action. 
 
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Tonight (Friday, February 6th) - join Toronto ACORN members at our Rally for a Living Wage! 5:00pm at 89 Chestnut Street (just behind City Hall). Last year we joined our allies and fought for an increase to the minimum wage; we won an increase and it is now indexed to inflation. Join us as we continue the fight as we kick off a campaign for a living wage!
 
For more information contact the Toronto ACORN office.