Hamilton ACORN’s featured in Ward 2 City Councillor’s Newsletter
Posted April 3, 2023
Hamilton ACORN holding a press conference on a maximum heat bylaw in front of City Hall on September 7, 2022
Ward 2 is a ward of renters. According to the 2016 census, the ward is made up of 76% tenants (compared to a 32% average for all of Hamilton). One thing most tenants will be able to relate to – rent is expensive! As of March 2023, average rents for a 1 bedroom apartment are $1,828 (a 20% increase from this time last year) and for 2 bedrooms $2,234 (a 15% increase).
One large reason for the massive rent increases year to year is lack of vacancy control. When a tenant moves out, a landlord is legally able to raise the rent to whatever amount they want for the next tenant. While ACORN is fighting provincially for better legislation, the current provincial government hasn’t made it easy for tenants and any legislation they have passed is more favourable to landlords (see Bill 184 and Bill 23 for examples).
With that being said, ACORN chapters across Ontario have been focused on what changes can happen municipally to support tenant rights. Here in Hamilton, ACORN started organizing in 2018 and campaigns have been focused on healthy homes (making sure landlords are keeping apartments in good repair) and tenant displacement.
Without a cap on rent between tenancies, landlords are incentivized to create high turnover in their units in order to raise the rent. Across the city this is often playing out on the ground as what tenants call renoviction and demoviction.
Renoviction refers to tactics or legal efforts that lead up to a tenant being forced to move out of their home under the guise of major renovations.
Demoviction refers to when landlords can file for eviction of a tenant if they intend to demolish the rental unit. This could be demolition of the entire building or demolition of the unit to change floor plans (e.g. turning a 3 bedroom apartment into two separate units).
Both forms of tenant displacement have devastating impacts on tenants and Hamilton’s affordable housing stock. Impacts include –
- loss of existing stock of private affordable housing;
- increased rents in the neighbourhood;
- housing instability for tenants;
- increased demand for social services and pressure on the waitlist for affordable housing; and
- increase in homelessness and displacement of low income and vulnerable residents.
With rising rents and the City’s challenge of building affordable housing, the City must do everything in its power to keep tenants that have affordable housing housed.
This new term of Council represents a huge opportunity to take bold action and pass local tenant protections and some important decisions will take place this spring.
On April 20, the Emergency and Community Services Committee will be hearing back on a consultant’s report and staff recommendations regarding Hamilton developing local anti-renoviction policies based on the landlord licensing program from New Westminster, British Columbia.
It’s important tenant voices and community members are heard, so please consider registering to delegate on April 20.
In the fall of 2022 the City also held consultation on potential tenant protections surrounding conversions of primary rental housing to condominium tenure and demolitions of primary rental housing.
While Bill 23 could weaken municipal powers for rental replacement (a key tool available to cities to require affordable units are replaced during demolition) tenants are counting on the City to follow through on local protections. The City is awaiting direction from the province if changes to rental replacement powers will move forward.
Ward 2 has been hit particularly hard by demoviction. Most notably, in 2020, tenants of 181 John Street North and 192 Hughson Street North received N13 eviction notices for demolition and dozens of tenants were displaced. More recently, tenants of 100 Charlton Avenue West are anxiously awaiting similar notices from their landlord after a minor variance was approved in December 2022 to pave the way for conversion of six 3 bedroom units in the building into twelve 1 bedroom apartments.
A staff report was expected back to the Planning Committee by the end of May 2023 but a firm date has yet to be determined. Hamilton ACORN is hopeful that Council will prioritize tenant protections this term and move forward on both renoviction and demoviction policies this year.