East Hamilton Rent Strike
Tenants need your support to ensure the East Hamilton Rent Strike is a success.
Starting May 1, 2018, tenants from four high rise buildings in East Hamilton took the bold and courageous step to launch a rent strike. Tenants are withholding rent to protest the landlord’s application for a large rent increase above the government guideline and to demand that the landlord make longstanding and necessary repairs to their units.
The Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network has spent the past two years organizing with Stoney Creek Towers tenants in their fight against their property manager, CLV Group, and their landlord, InterRent Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Working with the tenant committee, we’ve knocked on doors, made rounds of phone calls, held meetings in the building lobbies and at the local community centre. We’ve ran campaigns calling for repairs, for drafty windows to be replaced, for the heating to be fixed, for accessibility ramps to be installed, for harassment of immigrant tenants to stop—all with little or no response from the landlord.
Despite repeated requests to property management staff, tenants’ requests for repairs have long been ignored and many tenants are living in unsafe, unhealthy conditions. Tenants are contending with drafty windows, faulty heating systems, pest infestations, broken appliances (including stoves and fridges), unreliable elevators, peeling floors, cracks and holes in walls, peeling tub surrounds, leaks, and mould.
While the landlord refuses to spend a penny on necessary repairs to tenants’ units, InterRent/CLV has spent millions on cosmetic upgrades to the buildings—new landscaping, lobby renovations, new paint and carpeting in the hallways, painting the building exterior, etc. These upgrades are intended to beautify the building in order to attract new, higher-paying tenants.
To add insult to injury, InterRent/CLV has applied for an Above Guideline rent Increase (AGI) in order to pass on the cost of these upgrades to the tenants. Combined with the permitted government increase, the total rent increase amounts to nearly 10% over the next two years. Stoney Creek Towers tenants think it’s outrageous that they are being asked to foot the bill for these cosmetic upgrades, meanwhile necessary repairs to their units go ignored.
With so many tenants on fixed incomes (seniors, CPP, ODSP, OW recipients), low wages, or otherwise struggling to make ends meet, this drastic increase in rent could price many tenants out of their homes, leaving them in a desperate scramble for housing in a market that’s growing increasingly unaffordable. Some tenants would be at risk of homelessness.
Fed up, Stoney Creek Towers tenants have decided to take a stand. Refusing to be priced out of their homes and displaced from the neighbourhood they love, they have gone on rent strike to defend their homes and demand respect from their landlord.
When tenants withhold rent in protest, landlords will often respond by issuing eviction notices. Tenants have been setting their rent money aside and are prepared to pay what they owe, should it come to this. Nevertheless, in Ontario, the Landlord and Tenant Board requires the tenant to pay the landlord’s eviction filing fee ($190 per tenant). Tenants should not be penalized for participating in the rent strike. The Rent Strike Defense Fund ensures tenants are not burdened with this cost. It shows support and emboldens more tenants to join the strike.
The Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network calls on the entire Hamilton community (and beyond!) to donate to this fund and show your support for the Stoney Creek Towers rent strikers. Any donation will be greatly appreciated and every little bit helps. Whatever is left of the fund after the successful conclusion of the strike will be used as a general rent strike defense fund for tenants across the city.
Solidarity is a powerful weapon in the hands of working class people. Defend Hamilton. Support the East Hamilton Rent Strike!
If you prefer to donate by cheque, please send it to the following address:
The Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network
c/o Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
Suite #203, 100 Main St. E, Hamilton, Ontario