Stoney Creek Towers rent strikers gird for long haul

May 16, 2018
Article Source
Hamilton Spectator

More than 70 tenants at Stoney Creek Towers continue to withhold their rent this month to pressure their landlord to repair units and back down from a proposed rate increase.

About 20 of them chanted slogans, waved placards and gave megaphone-blasted speeches outside CLV Group's office Tuesday afternoon.

Stan Parker said he has lived at 50 Violet Dr. for 43 years.

"I've been through three strikes where I worked, through a marriage, a divorce, and I've never, ever been late paying my rent until this time here," he said.

Parker, a 65-year-old retiree who worked in the auto-parts and glass industries, said he's fine with the province's annual set rent increase — this year it's 1.8 per cent.

But anything more, which CLV is proposing, is too much, he said.

"I think the government should step in because this is unfair," said Parker, who pays nearly $740 a month for his two-bedroom apartment.

CLV is the property manager for InterRent, the real estate income trust that owns the four highrises east of Centennial Parkway, a complex that includes many immigrants, seniors and others on social assistance.

The proposed hike amounts to nearly 10 per cent over two years, notes the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network, an advocacy group working with the residents.

To do this, CLV needs an "above-guideline increase" (AGI), a hike that goes beyond the provincial cap. To justify AGIs, landlords must show they've made significant renovations to address structural problems, health and safety, plumbing, heating or electrical issues, for instance.

AGIs, however, can't cover cosmetic or regular maintenance. The striking residents argue CLV is asking them to pay for cosmetic upgrades.

Last month, they took their beef to the Landlord and Tenant Board, a provincial tribunal that holds hearings on rental disputes. No agreement was reached. So the residents decided to put pressure on their landlord through a rent strike, finding inspiration in recent high-profile tenant victories in Toronto.

The hike is one issue. Another is what residents describe as a backlog in repairs: drafty windows, broken balcony doors, faulty heating, pests, suspect elevators and broken appliances.

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