Two hundred tenants are on rent strike in Toronto against increases they say are meant to price them out of their homes.
Two hundred renters are entering week two of their rent strike in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. The rent strikers are demanding their landlord, MetCap Living, withdraw its applications for rent increases above the provincial guideline (totalling 15% over three years), and do the necessary repairs in their homes. The rent strikers are organized in committees based in six participating mid-rise apartment buildings.
The increases sought by MetCap are allowed under Ontario law, once approved by the Landlord Tenant Tribunal. The rent strikers oppose the increases on the basis that the landlord is trying to price residents out of their homes. The law allows landlords to raise rents as much as they like once the rental unit is vacant. This provides a financial incentive for landlords to evict longer term tenants.
Residents called their rent strike amid soaring rental prices and the rapid gentrification of their neighbourhood. A full 90% of Parkdale residents are renters. In all of Toronto, Parkdale is where residents spend the greatest proportion of their household incomes on rent, at nearly 50%. The rent strike is being taken up in defense of one of the last remaining working class neigbourhoods around downtown Toronto.
The emergence of this combative, neighbourhood-wide, multi-building organizing initiative is gaining widespread support in Toronto and across Canada. Supporters can help by participating on Tuesday’s phone zap action against MetCap and its multi-billion dollar investor, the Alberta Investment Managment Corporation (AIMCo). Financial contributions can also be made to the rent strikers defense fund.