Hamilton tenants on 'rent strike' bring protest to Ottawa

A group of frustrated Hamilton tenants on a “rent strike” drove their demands to Ottawa today.

The landlord, Ottawa based InterRent Real Estate Investment Trust and CLV Group, has proposed a 9.6% rent hike over the next two years. The more than two dozen residents who marched to the CEO's home in Ottawa say they can’t afford the hike and feel they are being priced out of the apartment complex. 

“If it goes up, we have to find another place to live in Hamilton and that’s hard because most places are over a thousand dollars with heat and hydro extra,” said Stoney Creek resident Jamie Miller. 

Provincial guidelines say the landlord can only increase rent by 1.8% this year. An AIG or Above Guideline Increase, however, can allow the company to increase rents further next year if it can prove “extraordinary or significant renovations, repairs or replacements” were recently completed. 

“This isn’t just an issue there, it is here, too,” said Hamilton resident Linda Habibi. “We’ve seen rents across Ontario go up by hundreds of dollars and that’s in any unit, it doesn’t matter whether it’s renovated or not.”

Members of the Stoney Creek Towers Tenant Committee and the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network started their protest in May when roughly 100 residents began withholding rent. The residents say they are saving the money and will hand it over once requested renovations are complete and the augmented rent hike is reversed. 

The company says it has invested millions of dollars over the years to make the buildings safer and more accommodating for its residents. 

“We are proud to be investing millions improving rental housing in Ontario. Tenants who don’t pay their rent and harass private citizens and their families are both violating the law and abiding the obligations of their lease,” said CLV Group’s Community Relations Manager Roseanne MacDonald-Holtman in an emailed statement.

“CLV will continue to provide, improve and invest in rental housing in Ontario.”