ACORN Newsletter

Stay current with ACORN news and events by joining our mailing list. You will receive updates in your inbox every month.



InSauga: Tenants accuse corporate landlords of negligence in Mississauga and Brampton - ACORN Canada

InSauga: Tenants accuse corporate landlords of negligence in Mississauga and Brampton

Posted January 8, 2024

“Where do I start?”

That’s what Michele Sarantos, 80, says when asked about her concerns about financialized housing, a common arrangement in Canada where a rental building is owned and maintained not by one individual but by a corporation that might own a number of properties.

Sarantos, who has been living at 2869 Battleford Road in Mississauga’s Meadowvale neighbourhood for about 15 years, says the property, operated by Canadian real estate company Morguard, is not well-maintained.

She also told that she has received notices regarding possible above-guideline rent increases–meaning an increase above the 2.5 per cent threshold set by the province for select properties.

“When I first moved in here, the elevator wasn’t working and I was told [fixing] it wasn’t in their budget. I had to go to [former City Councillor] Pat Saito to get it fixed,” she says, adding that she suspects management just replaced the interior.

“It’s putting lipstick on a pig, that’s what they do. I always had to go to the city’s bylaw enforcement office to get major repairs done. It’s very frustrating.”

Earlier this year, Sarantos and other tenants represented by ACORN, which describes itself as an independent social/economic justice group that helps renters in Mississauga and Brampton push rental management groups to provide acceptable and appropriate living conditions, came together to deliver over 400 tenant testimonials to the CMHC and Liberal MP offices across Canada.

The action coincided with a testimony given by ACORN’s national housing spokesperson, Tanya Bukart, to the federal review panel on the financialization of purpose-built rental housing.

The panel, part of the National Housing Strategy, will report back to the federal government with recommendations on how to preserve Canada’s existing affordable rental stock, which has been dwindling for years.

A report by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, says tenants’ incomes are not keeping pace with the growing cost of rental housing. According to the report, one in three Canadian renter households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. In Ontario, 40 per cent of tenant households spend more than 30 per cent and 15 per cent spend more than 50 per cent of their pay on shelter–putting them at high risk of homelessness should they face a financial setback of any kind.

Data from say asking rents for all residential property types in Canada averaged $2,174 in November. In Mississauga, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment hit $2,322 and in Brampton, the rate hit $2,176.

Financialization, ACORN representatives argue, allows companies to prioritize stakeholder concerns over tenant well-being.

“Tenants across Canada know there is a major problem with corporate landlords using Canada’s affordable market rental housing stock as an investment tool. ACORN’s work is ensuring that tenants have a say in the fate of their housing, not just corporate shareholders,” Marva Burnett, president of ACORN Canada, said in a statement.

“The time for research is done. It is for the federal government to use its powers to protect what remains of Canada’s affordable housing, and create new non-market, affordable housing now.”

Sarantos told that following a major renovation of her building’s underground parking structure, property management proposed increasing the rent by 2.8 per cent–prompting her to file a complaint.

“In my letter to the [Landlord Tenant Board], I called it a prime example of corporate greed,” she says.

Sarantos also says that property management has disputed many of her complaints.

“So many issues I’ve stated that they took exception to. It’s just mind-boggling. I mentioned the water being shut down every other week and they said it’s not true and it was only turned off twice in 2022,” she says, adding that she hasn’t seen action on concerns relating to balconies and aging carpet.

“It’s about common respect and courtesy to the people. I call it the slum of Meadowvale.”

Burkart, who gave testimony to the federal review panel on the financialization of purpose-built rental housing, said ACORN found that tenants living in corporate-owned housing tend to report issues with repairs, communication and rent increases.

“Basically, our findings were that tenants didn’t know who their landlord was, basic repair and maintenance were difficult to get done and they often face evictions, including renovictions, no-fault evictions, and above-guideline rent increases,” she told

“I’ve had five years of living with financialized landlords,” she says, adding that she currently lives in a rental building in Brampton.

ACTO’s report says the financialization or commodification of housing is contributing to the housing crisis, as housing is seen as a vehicle for wealth generation rather than shelter.

“We have seen an increase in institutional investors in the rental housing market, including private equity firms, asset managers, publicly listed companies, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and financial institutions. The largest 25 financial landlords (REITs and other types of firms) owned approximately 330,000 units in 2020. This constitutes nearly 20 per cent of the country’s private, purpose-built stock,” the report reads.

“These businesses must by their nature maximize profits and therefore pursue ever-increasing rental income. This view of housing as a profit-maximizing investment is in direct conflict with the notion of housing as a basic need and human right. The financialization of housing is the main reason for the loss of affordable rental housing, which has seen 15 units lost for every new affordable rental unit created.”

Burkart says ACORN is calling on the government to require landlords to be more responsive and transparent.

“We want full disclosure of landlords and property owners. When we need work done, we need to know who they are.”

Burkart and ACORN also say more must be done to preserve Canada’s existing affordable housing stock.

“We need to stop [corporations] from buying up more affordable housing. They buy up aging and old buildings that are cheaper than new buildings and they paint them, make them look pretty and jack the rent. There’s a massive incentive for them to buy affordable housing. We need to put a limit on how many they can purchase,” she says.

On its website, ACORN says it’s been fighting “profit-driven” housing since its inception in 2004 and has “won hundreds of millions in repairs, stopped displacement, and won protections like landlord licensing and registration, municipal anti-tenant displacement laws, stricter rent control laws, inclusionary zoning and more.”

That said, the organization says the “financialization” of housing, coupled with a lack of rent control and weak tenant protections, continues to disadvantage low- and middle-income tenants.

ACORN is calling on the government to mandate disclosure of property ownership across all provinces, stop financialized landlords from buying more affordable housing and set limits on how much housing they can acquire.

ACORN also says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) should supplement the National Housing Strategy’s co-investment fund with an acquisitions fund that would enable non-profit, co-op and land trust organizations to purchase at-risk rental buildings when they come on the market. It’s also asking the government to crack down on tax exemptions for REITs and require funding to be contingent upon landlords promising not to displace tenants.

ACORN also says a minimum of 1.2 million affordable homes must be built over the next 10 years.

“We need to stop financing corporate landlords who can increase rent and displace people. Any CMHC-backed financing should be used to build housing for tenants in core housing needs,” Burkart says.

“People can build luxury housing instead of addressing housing needs for people who need it the most and who are most at-risk. We need housing that fits core housing needs.”

Burkart also says the government needs to mandate rent control across Canada and ban above-guideline rent increases.

“We can build all the affordable housing we want but without rent control, we can’t keep it. We need the federal government to manage it. We need to change the income tax act and require them to convert each building to 20 per cent social housing,” she says.

Burkart says many of her experiences in corporate-owned rental buildings have been negative, adding that when she moved into her current apartment in May 2018, she experienced issues with leaks and mould.

She said that after the property was sold to another company later that year, tenants were displaced due to issues with the roofing. She said the building was sold again in 2022 and that despite multiple owners, there are still issues with accessibility.

“Tenants with accessibility needs have just one route in and out of the building. Repairs need to be done. The appliances are very old and inefficient, and I don’t have a fan over my stove. My fridge is very old and small. In family units, appliances should reflect family use. I have old wiring and a new panel put in in 2018. There’s a hallway leak just outside my door. My bathtub leaks,” Burkart says, adding that units in the building are renting for more than $2,500 a month–$1,000 more than the rent she was charged when she moved in about five years ago.

Burkart alleges some building owners take shortcuts by asking their own employees to carry out superficial repairs that don’t solve more significant problems.

“They believe value is done through painting and flooring. They use their own employees for plumbing and fixes, so they try to save money and not prioritize basically doing work in tenants’ units,” she says.

Sarantos also alleges a lack of tenant-centered policies in her building, telling that when she asked if someone could help her down the stairs with her arthritic senior dog during an elevator repair, she was told to call 311.

“I called [City Councillor] Martin Reid’s office and forwarded the response to them. If I was new to the country not knowing any better, I would have just called 311. This is what I’m dealing with. I would like some people with some people skills in the office, people who know how to deal with tenants. This is crazy.”

In an email to, Morguard, which owns 2856 Battleford, says all maintenance requests are currently up to date.

“Our property team is committed to fostering positive relationships with our residents. Their well-being and comfort are paramount. As of this statement date, resident maintenance requests at 2856 Battleford are up to date. We encourage residents to reach out to the management office should they have any maintenance requirements,” Susan Morasse, regional manager, residential, said in an email.

Morasse said the above-guideline rent increases are related to recent building upgrades.

“Residents’ concerns are taken seriously by our property team, and we encourage open dialogue to find a solution. Significant investments have been made at 2856 Battleford to improve residents’ comfort and accessibility. The above guideline increases represent these investments. Currently, the application is undergoing the Landlord and Tenant Board’s stringent review process. To address questions about the process, our team is willing to engage in discussions.”

Ultimately, Burkart says she’d like to see the government do more to help tenants but she isn’t sure what that help will look like.

“I’ve received positive feedback on my story and my experience. Has there been change? No. Will change come? We’re not sure at this point in time. We’re not sure what plan the government has in terms of changing anything other than increasing funding.”


Article by Ashley Newport for Insauga