“Everything goes up in Toronto except your paycheque”: Parkdale tenants talk about the neighbourhood’s rent strike

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Published on: May 10, 2017

On May 1, hundreds of people took to the streets of Parkdale to protest rent increases at a handful of apartment towers managed by MetCap, a major landlord in the neighbourhood.

Ontario law normally prevents landlords of pre-1991 buildings from raising rents by more than a low, guideline percentage every 12 months, but MetCap has applied to raise rents higher than the guideline in several of its Parkdale buildings. In response, some tenants are threatening a rent strike, during which they’ll withhold rent payments to MetCap until the company agrees to put a halt to future rent increases and address tenant grievances. We spoke with some MetCap renters in Parkdale to find out how they’re feeling about all this. (MetCap president Brent Merrill didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Sonam Tashi

36, MetCap renter for six years

How much is your rent going up?

By seven per cent. I’m currently paying $920 per month.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

No. To be honest, I can afford the hike, but I’m not happy about it. How can we pay more money when they don’t show up to fix things? Everyone has problems with the building’s management.

Alykhan Pabani

37, MetCap renter for five years

How much is your rent going up?

Nine per cent over three years. It ends up being approximately $1,000 extra per year, per tenant.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

Yes. There are 22 people in this building who are striking. We have people on disability. We have old people and refugees—lots of Tibetan refugees. Parkdale is supposed to be somewhere where people can go. Not only are they asking for more money, they’re not keeping up with repairs. We have tenants that are crawling up the stairs because there’s no ramp. They say they don’t have the money to pay for one, but that’s not an excuse.

Moises Fainke

40, MetCap renter for four years

How much is your rent going up?

Right now our rent is going up by $100, up to $1,300 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

Our family took part in the march, but we did not stop paying our rent. We have five people living in a two-bedroom apartment—me, my wife and our kids.

Sebastienne Incorvaia

63, MetCap renter for six years

How much is your rent going up?

Seven per cent.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

No, because my friend helps me pay the rent. He didn’t want to have a blemish on his record. My rent is $915.74 per month. One day, I forgot to write the .74 on the cheque and they called me and said I owe them 74 cents. I just added it to next month’s rent. I’m on disability pension. I live on $1,100 a month. I bet you in another five years they’ll tear this down and build condos so they can charge $2,000 per room.

George Kish

37, MetCap renter for three years

How much is your rent going up?

I didn’t pay the increase so I don’t know.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

Yes. I knew it was going on and I didn’t want to be left out. Every year rent goes up, bills go up, but people aren’t getting raises every year. Everything goes up in Toronto except your fucking paycheque.

Shiv Pandya

22, MetCap renter for one year

How much is your rent going up?

I just moved in. My rent hasn’t gone up.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

No. I’m not involved in the movement. I have other shit to do. I’m moving out in July because we’ve had so many issues with management. When we moved in, they promised they would clean things up, but after one month we had bed bugs and after three months we had cockroaches. Little baby ones crawling up the sink. They did do a clean-up, but I saw a new bed bug last week.

Pema Dorjee

24, MetCap renter for five years

How much is your rent going up?

I think it went up by $50 per month.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

I went to the march on May 1, but we’re still paying rent. I live with my mom and dad. We’re from Tibet, and they don’t really speak English so they haven’t really been following what’s going on with the strike. The rent goes up every year, and they don’t fix anything. There’s lots of problems. There’s bugs and the elevator’s broken all the time.

Ariel Slootsky

25, MetCap renter for a year and a half

How much is your rent going up?

My rent went up by $20 in January.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

No. The only problem I’ve had is I asked them to pay for a pigeon net for my balcony and they wouldn’t. They’ve done lots of repairs for me. They’ve been really on top of it.

Vim Puspanathan

22, MetCap renter for five years

How much is your rent going up?

I’m not sure, because my mom pays the rent.

Are you taking part in the rent strike?

No. But my mom is really upset. When we came here it was because we had roaches at our old MetCap place on Jameson. When we got here, we had a leaky ceiling. They fixed it, but it wasn’t a good job. They just painted over it and it still leaks. We have bugs here, too. When I go to bed at night, I can hear mice running around, coming in from other people’s homes. There’s seven of us living in a two-bedroom apartment. My mom gets welfare and sometimes we pay late. We’re going to stay here because we don’t have any other options.

Article source: http://torontolife.com/city/toronto-politics/everything-goes-toronto-except-paycheque-parkdale-tenants-talk-neighbourhoods-rent-strike/

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