Tenants protest rent increases in East Hamilton

More than 100 people living at the Stoney Creek Towers in East Hamilton were protesting today saying their landlord plans to increase rent by 10 percent over the next two years. A move that would force a number of the tenants out and on to the streets.

The protest group has more than doubled since it first began last month, that’s when more than 70 units withheld their rent from their landlord, the CLV Group.

“we’re striking for the AGI, so that’s the Above Guideline Increase, that’s happening to tenants who were here prior to CLV taking the buildings over a couple of years ago.”

Lynda Habibi is an owner of one of the newly renovated units but stands in solidarity with the legacy tenants.

“We’re just trying to put the pressure on them and hopefully they’ll come to an understanding. We’re not going to stop and I do believe we are going to win.”

They are calling on CLV to stop a rent hike that puts some tenants at risk of being evicted or homeless.

“A lot of people here in fixed income. If they have to apply for 10 percent increase every two years they are going to put people on the street.”

The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton says the lack of strong tenant protection policies is one of the reasons rent has been skyrocketing across the city. Their study released this month showed a drastic increase in the number of landlords trying to evict a tenants; applications jumped by 95 percent from 2010 to 2016.

A tenant who has lived in the Stoney Creek Towers for more than 10 years pays $750-$800 per month on average for a 2 bedroom apartment. Once a low-paying legacy tenant moves out, the unit is renovated and is currently being advertised for about $1400 per month.

Campbell Young, the organizer of the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network, details how the company deals with legacy tenants, “They try and buy out tenants, give them money incentives to leave and make them pay for these cosmetic repairs with the above guideline increase.”

The tenants are sharing the truth about the conditions and damage of the building.

“We are demanding respect and demanding them to take care of the unit.”

“Get these issues fixed. Falling ceilings, mold remediance, flooring and taps thats don’t work and walls that are falling down.”

According to the provincial guidelines landlords can raise rent once a year, by up to 1.8% in 2018, and must give 90 days written notice. Landlords can ask for a larger rent increase, but only with the approval of the landlord and tenant board.

CHCH reached out to the CLV Group for a comment on today’s protests or the tenants demands. They refused to provide a statement.