A number of residents in Parkdale have been voluntarily withholding their rent payments in order to put pressure on their landlord and secure key housing demands for their less fortunate neighbours.
In a press release tweeted out on Tuesday, the Toronto tenants in question say they'll pay their rent if the building's landlord can assure them that there won't be any evictions for people who can't afford to pay their rent due to the pandemic.
They're also demanding a meeting with the owner of the building, MetCap CEO Brent Merrill, to discuss their proposal.
We’re doing it for the people that really need our support.
The press release, tweeted out by community group Parkdale Organize, criticizes the current eviction process, which consists of "glitchy two-minute [video] hearings," they say.
Parkdale Organize quotes Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) adjudicator Dale Whitmore, who calls the situation an "eviction blitz."
But the tenants who are voluntarily withholding their rent say they'll pay up if Merrill — whose company MetCap owns several units in Parkdale and across Toronto — promises no evictions, no rent increases, and rent forgiveness for struggling tenants.
In an email to Narcity, Merrill said he understood the pandemic had made things difficult for many residents, and his company would not be issuing rent increase notices in 2021 in accordance with Ontario law.
He said was happy to meet with tenants individually to customize payment plans for their outstanding rent.*
And a spokesperson for the LTB said that "Tribunals Ontario and its adjudicators are committed to providing timely and efficient dispute resolution services to the people of Ontario."*
Matt Wittman, a Parkdale MetCap tenant who has withheld his rent since April 1, says that tenants have been trying to find solutions with landlords for months.
“I’m happy to pay back every cent of my rent today if it means my neighbours who are struggling will not lose their homes,” Wittman said.
* This article has been updated.