rent strike toronto

Hundreds of tenants in Toronto community stop paying rent during strike against landlord

Earlier this month, approximately 200 residents at 33 King St. — located near Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West —  stopped paying rent and began a strike against their corporate landlord, Dream. 

Now, tenants at another Dream-owned high-rise building in the York South-Weston community, 22 John St., are joining their neighbours in the rent strike. 

Tenants at both buildings — which together hold over 300 units — are striking to protest "years of rent increases and mismanagement that are pushing working-class tenants out of their homes, and out of the York South-Weston neighbourhood they love." 

For the past decade, the York South-Weston Tenant Union claims that the owners of 33 King St. have used a controversial tool called "above guideline rent increases" or AGIs to increase rents. 

Although 22 John St. only opened up in 2018, the union claims that tenants at the building have seen rent increases ranging from seven to 10 per cent year-over-year. Despite living in a rent-controlled building, tenants at 33 King St. claim to have seen rents increase by 22 per cent in the last five years

"As rents have gone up, services have gone down. Never-ending construction has denied tenants access to their swimming pool, visitor parking, and even their own balconies for over a year," the union said in a press release. 

The union names Dream, a Canadian company "with over $16 billion in assets and 30,000 rental units," as the corporate landlord. Members of the union met with Dream executives last week, however, they allege that the company "failed to meaningfully engage with any of their demands, offering instead to collaborate with tenants on 'community programming.'"

"Dream is very aware of the problems in our buildings, but has done nothing to address our concerns," said Sharlene Henry, co-chair of the York South-Weston Tenant Union. 

"There are more tenants at 33 King St. joining the strike this month, and our neighbours at 22 John St. are also coming on board. More people joining shows that this is a wider problem than just the one building. We hope Dream, and the different levels of government listen to our demands and provide concrete responses, not charity." 

On Friday morning, tenants will send notice of the continuation of the rent strike to Dream with three specific demands: one, withdraw existing applications for above guideline increases and follow rent control; two, commit to no more AGIs in the building; and three, pay tenants compensation for loss of services and amenities. 

Tenants at 33 King St. will enter their second month of striking on July 1.

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