Toronto Tenants Launch Rent Strike Against Above-Guideline Rent Increases

Over 100 tenants in a Thorncliffe Park apartment complex have launched a rent strike in protest of proposed above-guideline rent increases (AGIs) of nearly 10 percent over the past two years, according to a tenant advocacy group. 

The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) shared copies of 2022 and 2023 notices with CBC Toronto, revealing that residents of 71, 75, and 79 Thorncliffe Park Drive were notified of rent increases ranging from 4.94% to 5.5%, compared to last year’s 4.2% increase.

Many of the apartment complex’s tenants are immigrants, and some of them believe that the AGIs are more of an attempt to push them out of their community.

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) has yet to approve the AGIs. In Ontario, landlords can only increase rent for existing tenants per the province’s annual rent increase guideline, set at 2.5% this year. AGIs, however, allow landlords to impose an additional 3% per year for three years for capital expenditures like major repairs or renovations.

If approved, the AGIs could be applied retroactively to tenants who had not been paying the increase since 2022 or had not agreed to pay the proposed AGI last month. Philip Zigman, an organizer from FMTA, acknowledged that these types of rent increases are legal but criticized the disparity in financial responsibility, with tenants unable to afford the increases while landlords can afford renovations and maintenance.

Some tenants participating in the strike have already received eviction notices, according to Zigman. 

Starlight Investments and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) own the buildings. The company, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations, stated that it applied for AGIs after improving the buildings’ structure and safety. They expressed disappointment with tenants withholding rent payments and emphasized that participating in the rent strike could jeopardize a resident’s tenancy.

Starlight stated that it would continue to offer rent relief to struggling tenants, but participating in the rent strike would be considered a potential breach of the rental agreement. 

The Thorncliffe Park rent strike, which began on May 1, is the second in Toronto triggered by above-guideline rent increases, highlighting growing concerns over affordable housing in the city.

Information for this story was found via Global News, CBC News, Toronto Star, Twitter, 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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