City councillor Rob Deutschmann held a virtual Town Hall addressing the issue of renovictions in Kitchener and the Waterloo Region. Deutschmann emphasized the need for tenants to be equipped with the knowledge and resources to challenge wrongful evictions by landlords.
Lawyer Shannon Down, who spoke at the meeting says, “There has been a huge increase in the number of renoviction applications that we see at our legal clinic.”
Renoviction refers to landlords notifying tenants of renovations, often with the ulterior motive of charging more per month once the property is vacant. Many people in the region have come forward alleging forceful eviction.
Maribel Jajorin, the newly elected co-chair of the ACORN Tenant Union, says it was a “total nightmare” once Mike Beer Investments Company took over her apartment building. In January 2023, 12 units in her building received n13 renovation notices.
Jajorin stated her landlord was using intimidation and fear tactics on tenants, causing stress and anxiety over eviction. Jajorin received a notice after she was wrongfully accused of having an extra fridge in her unit.
Jajorin also noted recent unresolved issues, including a broken washer and inadequate heating during the winter. Despite promises of reimbursement, the commitment stayed unfulfilled.
She says her neighbours were “in constant fear of losing our homes”, with many of these residents belonging to vulnerable groups such as seniors, low-income households, and immigrants, who can’t afford recent elevated market prices.
Meg Ruttan (left), and Maribel Jajorin (right) at the rally Downtown Kitchener. (Sept. 22, 2023) Photo by: Regan Brusse
Meg Ruttan is a co-founder of Waterloo ACORN and spoke about her own frustrations with her current landlord, which encouraged her to start Waterloo ACORN, a membership-based community union.
ACORN is focusing on tenant issues and holds meetings every first Tuesday of every month at the Civic Hub Social Development Centre. ACORN is pushing for landlord licensing, which would bind tenant and landlord legally, providing more security for tenants.
Shannon Down says tenants technically have the right to be notified and move in once renovations are done, the problem is it requires good faith in the landlord and it’s up to the tenant to enforce their right which could take months at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
Dr. Laura Pin, an associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier, says a lot of issues with renovictions go back to the changes Mike Harris implemented in the 1990s.
The creation of vacancy de-control allows landlords to charge unrestricted rents on vacant units, incentivizing the eviction of tenants in rent-controlled units.
Pin emphasizes the need for a comprehensive landlord registry to monitor rental rates, and says the Provincial government needs to start gathering more information. Pin warned tenants not to panic when being given a n13, and advised only a sheriff possesses the authority to evict.
The rally outside City Hall demonstrated the community’s frustration with renovictions, demanding a bylaw be put in place to enhance rights and securities for tenants.