Toronto.com: East York tenants rally to oppose apartment rent increase
Posted June 22, 2018
People are going to end up in the street, says one worried resident
Posted June 22, 2018
A rent increase in an apartment building north of Danforth Village has a mother worried about having to choose between taking care of the bill or her kids.
“As a single mom I work in the kitchen and my income is very low,” said Rita Russo, a tenant who has lived in the building for a little over a year. “(The increase) will be like making a choice between paying for rent and feeding your kids.”
Russo, 43, lives in a junior bedroom unit with her nine-year-old daughter, a place she describes as “very, very, small.” Her adult son doesn’t live with them anymore due to the lack of space.
Her rent of $1,159 is expected to go up 4.8 per cent this year — or 9.16 per cent in the next three years.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to pay this big amount for a small place like mine,” Russo says, especially given the many problems that the building has, which includes a pest infestation in her unit.
Resident Ryan Halavonja says approximately 200 tenants in the 106 Goodwood Park Court building were notified of the rent increase in January — which many are trying to fight against.
An official with Ranee Management — the building’s property management company — said the matter is still with the Landlord and Tenant Board and didn’t want to provide more comments.
The next hearing will be held on July 25.
Despite the stricter policy that was enacted in Ontario last year to limit rental property fee hikes, property owners can still do so under the Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs) to make essential repairs — capping the increase at up to three per cent above the guideline for up to three years.
Many tenants feel the management was taking advantage of the rule to unfairly hike the rents.
“For many years they’ve been neglecting to do the repairs,” said tenant Darryl Godfrey. “So they found a loophole to get the repairs done, which should have been done years ago. And now the tenants are paying for it with this 4.8 per cent rent increase.”
Godfrey says the leaking rooftop was finally fixed after 10 years. There’s still no adequate heating system in the basement with no functional elevator access.
With the help of tenant advocacy group ACORN’s East York chapter, a group of tenants held a rally in the building complex earlier in the month to fight for the rent hike and to push for “real rent control” in the city.
Among those who came to show their support was the recently re-elected MPP Peter Tabuns, who has been championing for rent control in the city for years.
Tabuns says there have been so many games played with above guideline increase.
“I think the problem we have now is that the landlords can pretty much do what they want. And it’s very difficult for tenants to actually protect themselves,” he said. “I think the rules need to be rewritten and they need to be revisited. So the tenants aren’t being taking advantage of.”
Godfrey hopes something will be done.
“I’m on a pension. I’ve worked all my life and I have medical problem. So I had to get out of work. Basically about 80 per cent of my cheque goes to rent,” the 60-year-old said.
He added that many tenants feel the same way and they fear for the worst.
“There’s going to be a lot of people end up living on the street.”
Article by Bambang Sadewo for Toronto.com