Tenants of Two More Toronto Apartment Buildings Have Gone On Rent Strike

Over 300 tenants residing in two apartment buildings in Toronto have taken a stand by withholding their rental payments, accusing their landlord of violating rent control regulations. 

The King Street and John Street buildings have become centers of protest, with roughly 100 tenants and union representatives gathering at 33 King Street in York-South Weston to raise awareness about the strike.

The York-South Weston Tenants Union reported that 220 tenants from King Street and nearly 100 from John Street have joined the strike, with the King Street strike starting in June and the John Street strike starting earlier this month.

The tenants have cited exorbitant rent increases, reaching up to 25% in 2019, making it challenging to afford basic necessities. Elizabeth Thompson, a retired tenant living on a pension, shared her struggle, stating that her rent had almost doubled since she moved in. 

Alongside these increases, there has been a noticeable deterioration in amenities. Anthony Alao, residing at John Street with his wife and two-year-old, expressed frustration over unfair rent hikes and the intermittent malfunctioning of elevators, posing difficulties for pregnant women to navigate the stairs during emergencies.

Beverly Henry, a tenant at King Street, pointed out that while they pay for certain amenities, they are not receiving them, stating that corporate landlords are taking advantage of their situation. 

33 King, where several tenants are now on rent strike. Source: Dream Unlimited

Rally organizer Bruno Dobrusin claimed that many individuals have experienced rent hikes far beyond the rent control guidelines. “People have seen rent increases that are three or four times above rent control,” he said. “This building is supposed to be rent controlled.”

The landlord of both buildings, Dream Unlimited, issued a statement indicating that 40% of the King Street building now falls under affordable housing, making it exempt from Above Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). However, Dream Unlimited acknowledges that AGIs affecting the other 60% of the building stem from previous ownership and work completed prior to their acquisition.

“The AGIs that are impacting the other 60% of the building was inherited by the previous owner for work completed prior to our acquisition, in 2016-2018,” said Hero Mohtadi, VP of residential operations and asset management, according to CTV News Toronto.

“We’ve been working hard to resolve these AGIs and recently settled the prior owner’s 2018 AGI application, which included a significant reduction from the original ask.” Mohtadi added that construction has been “focused on ensuring the long-term viability and safety of the building,” but also said that the company has not applied for any AGIs for this construction work.

“As we work towards resolving the prior owner’s AGIs, we have made repeated offers to develop individual payment plans for residents,” Mohtadi explained. “To date, only 30 out of 239 residents have requested any sort of assistance.”

Mohtadi also said that the John Street building, meanwhile, does not fall under the purview of provincial rent increase guidelines as it was occupied after 2018. 

“We understand that affordability is a concern for many individuals and families, and have strived to keep the lease rates at West22 significantly lower than the market value. Even with recent increases, rents at West22 are still 30% below market standards.”

According to Dobrusin, the protesters have held discussions with  Dream Unlimited in the past but have been unsatisfied with the outcomes. Their hope is that the rally will garner more support from local government representatives and lead to meaningful negotiations for a resolution to the ongoing rent control violations.

The strikes at these King Street and John Street buildings follow similar action at 71, 75, and 79 Thorncliffe Park Drive. Organized by the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Association, around 100 residents in the apartment complex went on strike in May this year. They were protesting against proposed above guideline increases that included retroactive hikes from May 2022.

These residents, sadly, were issued eviction notices by June.

Information for this story was found via CTV News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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