Parkdale tenants organize rent strike to protest rent increases at MetCap buildings

Click to play video: 'Parkdale residents refuse to pay rent to protest proposed hike'
Parkdale residents refuse to pay rent to protest proposed hike
WATCH ABOVE: Parkdale residents refuse to pay rent to protest proposed hike. Cindy Pom reports – May 1, 2017

Parkdale tenants living in six apartment buildings owned and operated by MetCap Living are staging a rent strike beginning May 1 to fight back against massive rent increases and the lack of repairs to their units.

Residents say the buildings’ management company is increasing the rent by nine per cent over three years in addition to the provincially instituted guideline of 1.5 per cent this year.

“The goal for MetCap is to push out the long-term working class tenants from the buildings so they can jack the rent as much as they like on vacant units,” Cole Webber, a member of the Parkdale Community Legal Services team, said during a rent rally in Parkdale on Sunday.

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Webber said residents are demanding MetCap withdraw their Above Guidelines Rent Increases (AGIs) which can only be approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

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According to provincial guidelines, AGIs can only be applied if an increase in costs for taxes or utilities are “extraordinary,” if significant renovations and repairs have been completed, or if the costs for security services have gone up.

MetCap President Brent Merrill told Global News the three per cent increases over three years are only for some of the company’s buildings. He said the affected buildings need to be fixed.

“If you give me any issue a resident has, we will 100% make sure it’s dealt with. That’s why we have a help line,” he said.

“The buildings are older and they need constant upkeep and repair. We’re entitled to put through an increase as a result of that under the legislation. If they didn’t pay their rent, they could get evicted, yes.”

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Meanwhile, Webber said residents have tried to seek a resolution through the tenant board process but have had little luck.

“The landlord-tenant tribunals are a dead end for tenants, so the tenants decided to take a strategy of a rent strike in order to force Metcap to withdraw the Above Guideline rent increases,” said Webber.

“At its core, this is a fight against displacement of working class and immigrant tenants from Parkdale. So the rent strike is an action that tenants are taking to fight back against that displacement.”

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With files from Cindy Pom.

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