Rent-striking residents crash open house, say prospective renters should know ‘truth’

CLV is the property manager for InterRent, the real estate income trust that owns the four highrises. The increase they are seeking is above the annual guideline set by the Ontario government, which is 1.8 per cent this year. To do this, CLV needs an “above-guideline increase” (AGI), a hike that goes beyond the provincial cap. To justify it, landlords must show they’ve made significant renovations to address structural problems, health and safety, plumbing, heating or electrical issues, for instance. It’s not meant to include cosmetic or regular maintenance.

But the striking residents argue CLV is asking them to pay for just that.

Tenants say their landlord’s AGI asks them to eat the cost for cosmetic upgrades in common areas, like grass, planters and lobby fireplaces, while they endure infestations, broken elevators and applicances, old and drafty windows, busted doors and floor tiles.

The upgrades they’ve done, tenants say, are intended to beautify the building in order to attract new, higher-paying tenants. And they won’t take it.

“We want to warn potential new tenants not to believe the glossy advertisements,” says Emily Power, Organizer with Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network who took part in the tenant’s open house. “And we want to make sure CLV knows we aren’t backing down.”

“Repair requests are promptly addressed and we always do our best to provide our residents with a safe and secure living environment and take great pride in the service we provide to them,” CLV community relations manager Roseanne MacDonald-Holtman replied to The Spectator via email last month.

Like other older buildings in Ontario, the Stoney Creek Towers “require substantial ongoing investment and rehabilitation, ” MacDonald-Holtman added.

There are no longer superintendents on site at the four buildings and tenants say tour guides for the company open house had reportedly packed up and left when the residents congregated outside 40 Grandville.

A microphone was passed around with some residents getting emotional over their living conditions. They insist the version of the building new tenants see is much different then the living reality within the building.

One said she had only one working element on her stove and could only eat soup for months on end. Several reported wonky elevator behaviour, with the elevator dropping several floors at a time, or not working altogether.

“There’s not enough being fixed,” says Sharon MacKenzie, who moved into the penthouse on the 15th floor last November. The winter was hard, she says, with frost and snow building on the old windows.

“When you move out is when they want to do the fixing,” she says.

MacKenzie says she paid the rent in May despite the strike because she was worried what would happen. They have a money order ready to pay June’s rent, but plan to hold it until changes are made.

Linda Habibi, who lives at 77 Delawana, says she has had enough. She’s used three vacation days so far to be home when the landlord said a repair person was coming. No one showed up.

Plaster on the walls below her windows has crumbled because of the old windows letting in frost and moisture. When she unplugged her hair dryer, the socket faceplate came right off with it. She shakes her head and said she wished a tenant had told her what to really expect from the building.

Parking is another issue, tenants say. New residents are charged $35 a month, and there aren’t enough spots for everyone.

“There is a real injustice here,” Power says. “They (tenants) are saying — ‘we’re not going to be some extra cash in your bank account for your investors.'”

Tenants at the scene Saturday say they are unaware if anyone has received an eviction notice. But there is talk among the strikers to fundraise for any court fees that may come with it.

rgrover@thespec.com

905-526-3404 | @RosieSpec

rgrover@thespec.com

905-526-3404 | @RosieSpec