The fight’s not over yet for tenants who say they face poor living conditions in MetCap buildings in Parkdale.
A group of residents from 87 Jameson Ave. is working on launching a neighbourhood-wide campaign against the property management company. It aims to rally the four MetCap buildings facing above-rent-guideline increases, together to fight back against the landlord by all agreeing to a rent strike.
“There’s strength in numbers,” said Cole Webber, a community legal worker for the Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS).
“One isolated building is going to have a hard time against one of the biggest, most notorious landlords in Toronto. But if they band together their fight will be harder to ignore.”
The tenants of 87 Jameson are planning to hit MetCap where it hurts, by continuing to refuse to pay rent and are asking the other MetCap buildings facing rent increases to do the same.
“If we do this together they can’t ignore us,” said Aliza Kassam, a tenant at 87 Jameson Ave.
MetCap is currently requesting a rent increase that’s three per cent above the provincial guideline over the next three years for a total of nine per cent to cover costs of the 91-unit building. The president of MetCap first told the Villager the 65-year-old building has undergone many renovations costing roughly $1.5 million including, a new roof, new elevators, refurbished corridors, two new boilers and the repaired balconies.
Tenants and Merrill attended a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board, Feb. 8 where both parties agreed to mediation, but an agreement wasn’t reached. A new hearing is scheduled for the spring.
“Togetherness is power,” said Roger Alvarez, a tenant from 188 Jameson Ave. at a community meeting held last week.
“We can’t keep living like this. We, as tenants in Parkdale, deserve better.”
Alvarez was on a panel with three other tenants from 87 Jameson and 96 Jameson who rallied tenants together to compile a concentrated group from each of the MetCap buildings to fight back.
“if we’re going to be successful and if we’re going to use our numbers and our strength intelligently, we aren’t just going to play the game on their terms,” said Bryan Doherty a tenant at 96 Jameson Ave. who spoke on the panel encouraging residents to stand up for their rights and assuring them they’re not alone in the fight.
“We aren’t just going to go through the courts, we aren’t just going to go through the politicians and have press conferences. We’re going to talk about things like rent strikes and protesting in front of their offices.
This isn’t the first time Parkdale tenants have had to rally against landlords in the neighbourhood. A group of tenants from four buildings owned by Akelius on Tyndall, Spencer and two on Jameson Avenue, fought and won $50,000 after the board found the landlord was neglecting unit repairs in apartment buildings.
“Tenants in Parkdale have been getting more organized, there are successes by Akelius tenants in getting their rent increases pushed back,” Webber told the Villager.
“It’s time for MetCap tenants to come together and do the same.”