Tenants at an apartment in Toronto's Parkdale area oppose above-guideline rent
Application follows $300,000 renovations at the building, which the landlord wants all tenants to help pay for
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Tenants at another Parkdale apartment complex are planning a strike to challenge a rent hike they call unfair and harmful to low-income, long-time residents.
According to a copy of the application to the Landlord and Tenant Board, Nuspor Investments — the property management company at 1251 King St. W. — is seeking a rent increase of 3.4 per cent. That's 1.6 percentage points above the rental guideline set by the province this year.
The application follows renovations at the 14-floor building, and the landlord wants all tenants to share in the costs totalling about $300,000. The application says the renovation process started in 2015 and has included new garbage disposals, new paint and carpeting in the hallways, a heat exchanger and lighting retrofits.
"All the common areas have been upgraded, and yet they've never touched our units. Ever," said Mark Farquharson, one of the tenants organizing the strike. He added the renovations also included new landscaping outside the building with flowers and shrubs.
"It looks beautiful. I'm not saying we don't want that, but you go into a building for a reason, because it's cheaper rent."
The tenants plan to stop paying rent on Feb. 1. Their protest is partly inspired by their neighbours who last summer successfully fought against a rent increase from MetCap Living Management Inc.
Neither Nuspor Investments nor building owner Anspor Construction Limited replied to Metro's requests for comment by deadline.
Four years ago, when Farquharson moved in, his one-bedroom apartment cost $1,099 per month, all-inclusive. He and his pregnant wife are now paying $1,218, and he's worried the proposed increase could force them out.
One particular addition from the renovations sticks out to Farquharson: two new paintings in the lobby.
"I could have drawn those myself," he said.
Farquharson said he and a group of tenants wrote to the landlord last week contesting the above-guideline increase and requesting repairs in some apartments.
In a notice to tenants, dated Jan. 18, the property manager said there had been no outstanding maintenance requests until the package of concerns arrived, calling the tenant group "not valid."
"If you feel harassed by this group, please notify the management office in writing," the notice reads, adding that any concerns should be brought to the Landlord and Tenant Board meeting on Feb. 2.
Cole Webber of Parkdale Community Legal Services said many landlords seem to have "an agenda" to get long-time tenants out, giving them room to significantly raise rent because there's no limit on vacant units.
"Tenants have to organize and push back against the landlords," Webber said. "They're not going to win this battle on legal ground, the way the law is currently written."