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Hearing begins for above-guideline rent increases in Parkdale

Last Updated Jun 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm EST

The Parkdale community protested outside the Landlord and Tenant Board’s (LTB) midtown headquarters ahead of a hearing into rent increases tenants are calling unfair.

Wednesday’s hearing into AIMCo and MetCap Living’s application to raise the rent at 87 Jameson Ave. 15 per cent over the next three years — above the Ontario guideline — drew a large crowd of tenants and their advisors at the Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS).

Tenants at 12 Parkdale buildings have been on a rent strike since May 1 to demand their landlords withdraw the rent increases and do necessary repairs to their units.

“Right now what I’m most interested in — and the documents I was asking about today — were about whether or not the landlord is undertaking projects which increase the cosmetic and luxury value of the building and [do] not actually affect the substance of what the building is about,” said Simon Wallace of PCLS.

Above-guideline rent increases are legal, but must be approved by the LTB. MetCap, which operates the buildings currently under a rent strike, claims the $1 million in repairs it has done at 87 Jameson were desperately needed to keep the aging building operating.

MetCap President Brent Merrill also said his company has reached out to PCLS, which reportedly refused to meet until MetCap drops all current and future above-guideline increases.

The rent strike reached a crisis point last week when Merrill almost ran over a tenant with his truck. He since apologized and agreed to some of the tenant’s demands.

On Saturday, dozens of tenants protested outside the home of Guy Alberga, who co-owns four of the Parkdale buildings in question, managed by MetCap.

“What we’re dealing with is buildings that are crumbling, are filled with pests, are filled with cockroaches, bats, mice,” a PCLS staff member said at the LTB hearing.

“And because these are racialized, low-income neighbourhoods, these kind of predatory companies don’t care. And we’re here to make sure the Landlord and Tenant Board sees the support for these communities.”

No decision was reached at the LTB hearing. It could take months to set the next date.

Reporter Shauna Hunt was at the LTB hearing Wednesday morning. Watch her video below or here.

Related stories:

Parkdale rent strikes take protest to property owner’s front door

Teachers, students to join Parkdale rent strikers

Parkdale landlord agrees to some tenant demands, but eviction threat looms