By Mike Adler from Toronto.com
Tenants in Scarborough accused Doug Ford of betraying them during the pandemic and called on the Ontario premier to stop a coming wave of “COVID evictions.”
Toronto ACORN members demonstrated Aug. 4 outside the province’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) offices against the Progressive Conservative government’s Bill 184.
During Ontario’s State of Emergency, Ford pledged tenants wouldn’t lose housing for falling behind on rent, but that moratorium ended July 31, and ACORN says the LTB is resuming hearings that could put thousands on the street.
After members hung a banner across the Midland Avenue building’s door, Loretta Fisher said Bill 184, being challenged in court by the City of Toronto, “is catastrophic for tenants” and “deeply compromises” their right to due process.
ACORN – Association of Concerned Organizations for Reform Now – is asking for a continued ban on evictions until the province recovers fully from COVID-19, plus a rent forgiveness plan for vulnerable tenants.
Between March 17 and July 19, the OTB processed more than 6,000 applications to evict tenants for not paying rent.
Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, lets landlords evict without notice tenants who agree to repayment plans with landlords and then fall behind.
ACORN, which expects more families to fall behind on their rent, is asking tenants not to sign repayment plans.
A married father of three, Nasar Nader said his family faces eviction in Whitby but finding affordable rent elsewhere is hard.
“I’d rather put food on the table than pay the rent,” said Nader, an ACORN member who came to Scarborough to send a message to “filthy rich” landlords.
Landlords, however, had waited for the ACORN group with a demonstration of their own — one stating their case “small landlords” are being hurt by tenants.
It’s not “good tenants” causing grief but “professional tenants” who take advantage of people renting out houses and condominiums, refusing to pay their rent and knowing LTB is slow to evict, said Rose Marie, co-founder of SOLO (Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario)
The Markham woman called Bill 148 “a good step forward, but only the beginning of changes that need to be made.”
“Landlords are being defrauded. We need a system that solves these issues right away,” said Marie, whose group wants the province to pay landlords until lengthy rent disputes are resolved.
After SOLO and ACORN members jostled for position with signs, Marie told the tenant advocates they should be working together.
“If we stop buying houses so we can rent to people, where will you live?” she asked.
Several SOLO members said they depend on rent, and so are frustrated with the LTB’s slow pace in dealing with problem tenants.
One, Arjumand Shafique, said his tenant in Clarington hasn’t paid rent since last June, and he’s about to lose his house as a result.
“I have never felt this helpless in my entire life” he said.
Another, Linda Shao, said a tenant refused, starting in February, to pay rent on Shao’s Markham condo, and won’t leave.
For a while, Shao said, she became homeless because she had no other home or income source in Canada.
Fisher suggested so-called “professional tenants” are rare. She objected to signs, carried by SOLO members, which complained about “rich” or bullying tenants.
“They have the nerve to call us ‘rascally tenants,’ when we’re about to be evicted into the streets,” Fisher said.