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CBC NEWS: Tenants at Kitchener apartment building say they’re being wrongfully evicted, MPP calls it ‘deeply troubling’ - ACORN Canada

CBC NEWS: Tenants at Kitchener apartment building say they’re being wrongfully evicted, MPP calls it ‘deeply troubling’

Posted March 1, 2024

Tenant union ACORN says eviction notices issued at 17-storey building at 250 Frederick Street

Tenants at a Kitchener apartment building are sounding the alarm in fear that they will soon be wrongfully evicted in order to raise the rent.

ACORN, a tenant’s rights advocacy group, said 15 tenants have already received N13 eviction notices at a 17-storey apartment building at 250 Frederick Street after it was bought in November, with the new landlord planning to renovate the building.

“Basically they were told that plumbing was an issue, and I know from living here for 11 years that the plumbing has always been kept up,” Jacquie Wells, ACORN’s representative for Waterloo region, told CBC News on Saturday.

“I also know that the new owners are installing dishwashers and … our leases specifically and explicitly said not to install dishwashers. So, the fact that they’re doing this work suggests to me that there’s potentially sabotage going on here to create a reason.”

Wells said after looking into it, they haven’t found any building permits related to the plumbing work, which would be required for an N13.

Tessa D’Achille, a tenant in the building, said she received an N13 notice on Jan. 31, advising her she has 130 days to get out of the building. But she said the unit is in good repair.

“We’ve been living in it for seven years. There’s no issues with electrical, plumbing, anything like that,” she said.

“We had a meeting with them and they told us things like there’s rotten wiring, the plumbing is bad. But we actually saw a renovated unit and there was no sign they’d done any electrical [work].”

Linda Sachs and her husband — both retirees — are also tenants in the building. She said she was “shocked and disappointed” when she got the notice.”

“Sachs said she and her husband thought they were going to be “grandfathered in,” adding, “we’re fighting our way, we’re not giving up.”

Suite of eviction notices ‘deeply troubling’: MPP

Green party member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre Aislinn Clancy is calling on the provincial government to prevent wrongful evictions.

“The recent suite of eviction notices being issued to residents of a downtown apartment in my riding is deeply troubling,” Clancy said in a statement issued Feb. 17.

“From the conversations I’ve been having, it’s clear that there’s a lot of fear right now. Many of these tenants are seniors, single parents, and low-income folks who can’t afford to have their rents go up.”

On Saturday Clancy told CBC News that “communities all over Ontario are worried about homelessness,” suggesting “we can prevent homelessness by keeping people housed.”

Clancy added that Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board has “long been inadequate” when it comes to preventing wrongful evictions and further called on the Ford government to protect renters who find themselves in similar situations.

Tenant union ACORN invited to educate Waterloo region renters about rights

Report on backlog at Landlord and Tenant Board says Ontario government seems willing to let situation ‘fester’

She said this should include implementing vacancy control to limit rent increases between tenancies and strengthening penalties and enforcement for renovictions and bad-faith evictions.

According to a recent report, Tribunal Watch Ontario said there were 53,000 unresolved cases at the Landlord and Tenant Board as of March 2023 — impacting at least one million Ontarians.

In November 2023, data from the Landlord and Tenant Board showed just four out of 13 fines issued to landlords for bad faith evictions since 2020 have been paid.

Government says it’s taking action to protect renters

A spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said Friday that the government already has measures in place to support tenants.

“We’re taking action to protect renters from bad landlords by doubling the maximum fines under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, bringing them to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations.”said Bianca Meta in an email to CBC News.

The province says they have held the 2024 rent increase guideline at 2.5 percent, which is below the average inflation rate of 5.9 percent; and the lowest in the country to protect tenants from significant rent increases.

Despite these measures, some municipalities are taking matters into their own hands to stop bad faith evictions.

Hamilton is officially the first city in Ontario to pass an anti-renovation bylaw and now several other cities across the province may be looking to pass similar regulations.

Ward 3 Hamilton Coun. Nrinder Nann says the bylaw helps protect the city’s affordable housing units, while also improving housing security for residents and credits the hundreds of tenants that organized and came forward over the years, from both densely concentrated downtown apartments and suburban communities.

“It is time for every level of government to do what we need to do to update all regulations as it relates to rental housing and do it in a way that balances the interests of the renter as well as the property owner,” Nann told CBC News on Saturday.

Hamilton to become 1st Ontario city with bylaw to stop ‘bad faith’ renovictions

CBC INVESTIGATES Ontario has a rental housing enforcement unit. It investigates a fraction of cases and fines even fewer

Between 2017 and 2022, Hamilton saw a 983 per cent increase in the number of rent eviction notices that residents were receiving, Nann said.

She said the anti-renoviction bylaw regime not only serve as an accountability check for bad faith practitioners on the side of property owners, but also a tool that helps be part of the spectrum of solutions that municipalities need to explore in Ontario that help preserve affordable housing.

The bylaw will require a landlord to apply for a city renovation licence within seven days of issuing an eviction notice to a tenant. The licence fee will be $715 per unit, and $125 to renew annually.

The city will only allow the eviction and renovations to take place if the landlord has already secured all building permits to complete the work and provides an engineer’s report confirming vacancy is necessary. The landlord will also need to make arrangements with any tenant who wants to return to their unit once the renovation is complete.

After the renovation is complete, the landlord will be required to adhere with the Residential Tenancies Act and allow the tenant to return to their unit at the same rate they were paying before the work was done.

If landlords don’t comply with the bylaw, they could be fined up to $500 per unit per day, plus administrative fines that will be determined by council.


Article by Desmond Brown for CBC NEWS