Tenants' Reflections from the Landlord and Tenant Board
Hamilton Tenant: Volume 01, Issue 02
Since May 2018, tenants from the Stoney Creek Towers in east Hamilton have been collectively withholding rent from their land- lord, InterRent REIT, and property management company, CLV Group. Tenants have two demands for InterRent: make repairs
to our units and drop the proposed Above Guideline Increase in rent. Rather than negotiate directly with tenants to come to an agreement and end the strike, InterRent has responded by dragging rent strikers to the LTB, over and over again, scheduling several hearings every month. The amount of money InterRent has spent on lawyers and paralegals, in addition to travel expenses and hotel accommodations for the posse of executives they send down from head office in Ottawa, is astounding.
Rather than acknowledging the organized, collective nature of the rent strike, InterRent insists that non-payments of rent are individual acts of negligence. It is clear that InterRent intends to play the long game, scheduling hearing after hearing, forcing tenants to pay the landlord’s court filing fees (usually $190 per tenant per hearing), all in an effort to drain the rent strike defense fund. Through this process, as well as the AGI hearings, rent strikers have gained first-hand experience of the LTB system and come to understand who it serves. Tenants are united against the landlord and against the biased LTB. Below, three tenants reflect on their experiences at the LTB. Diana and Cam describe hearings on October 16, 2018. George describes his experience at the AGI hearing which took place November 1st and 2nd, but was not resolved in the time provided so has been adjourned until 2019.
I had an L9 hearing on October 16 at the LTB at 119 King St W. Prior to the hearing there was a rally where some of the tenants could say something about our living conditions. I felt like I had to say something after living here for 7 years and seeing no change. Big deal now, rich company buys the building and does cosmetic work but the underlying problems still exist. I did my speech and attended because I hate feeling like a pawn and taken advantage of by a big corporation who does not care for us but only for their rich investors who will gain more with the proposed rent increase of 10% over 2 years.
At the hearing, I had another tenant represent me which made me feel better, I was much more calm. The show of fellow tenants supporting our cause was awesome and made me feel that we will win this and a wrong will be righted. I will continue to support this cause to the very end. Hopefully justice will prevail and our hands will be raised in victory because it is only right.
I have been living at the Stoney Creek Towers for over 20 plus years with my family in not so average living conditions. Over a year ago when CLV bought the buildings, I had a hot water issue, meaning I had no running hot water to stay sanitized everyday. This lasted for about six months until they finally decided to respond, only after we collectively as tenants went on rent strike. Can we say human rights abuse or what?
Today October 16, 2018, I went to the LTB hearing to represent my mother, who cannot speak for herself or even knows how to use a phone, but I was not allowed to represent her. Since when can you not represent your own mother? The hearing proceeded anyways.
So now we are in the sixth month of the rent strike and CLV and the LTB are still acting as if we are not striking. So we have no choice but to keep striking until a fair solution has been con- firmed for all parties and people.
THEY SAY RENT HIKE,
WE SAY RENT STRIKE!
At the Above Guideline Increase hearing on November 1 and 2, Dave Nevins, CLV Chief Operating Officer, was the sole witness for both days. Half the time Nevins didn’t have the answers to the questions from our lawyer, Kevin Laforest. I’m 81 years old, I should know when someone is lying to me. I felt compelled to go up and talk, that’s why I called him a damn liar in front of everybody. All this Nevins guy is interested in, the last thing, is the dollar bill. He doesn’t give a damn about the people who live in here or the conditions they live in. I realize he is a business man and that’s the bottom line, to show a profit. This building was run down, I know that, there was hardly any maintenance done on it. And some of the things we found out going door-knocking were atrocious, the conditions the people were living in.
In my opinion, the AGI hearing was a waste of time, they don’t want to come forward and tell the truth, all they’re trying to do is cover up enough just to show the LTB “Oh we spent so much money,” all they’re trying to do is recuperate that money and show their shareholders a profit. The LTB from what I gather, they favour the landlords more than the tenants.The LTB is like a lost cause, it is not impartial, the government should have a review on the LTB. I felt that way at the AGI hearing.
We have to think of the future too. If I lose this place, where am I going to find another I can afford? One of the reasons I attended the hearing is because I committed myself to this and I have to be loyal to the tenant committee and to the people I represent, all the other tenants who live in the buildings. That’s why I always say: together we have strength, if we don’t stand together, they’re going to walk right over us. That’s the way things are.