Hamilton surveying public about renoviction issues


Published February 24, 2023 at 4:43 pm

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Hamilton renters have a chance to self-advocate as the city ponders adopting the ‘New Westminster model’ of stopping renovictions.

Engage Hamilton is conducting a public survey to help evaluate the municipality’s ability to pass a rental licensing bylaw that could include fines and sanctions to landlords. Renovictions, by British Columbia’s legal definition, describes the practice of evicting a tenant of good standing in order to renovate or repair a rental unit, and then either converting the unit’s use (i.e., from an apartment to a condominium), or renting to a new tenant who can likely be charged a higher rate.

The ACORN Hamilton tenant advocacy group first called on the city in August 2020 to emulte the New Westminster, B.C. bylaw. The metro Vancouver-area city’s court-tested bylaw threatens landlords with the loss of their business licence and fines of up to $1,000 per day.

The public survey in Hamilton is open through March 5. Findings by a contracted consultant, Enterprise Canada, will help Hamilton Housing Services write a recommendation report that will be presented to a city-council committee on April 20.

“This important work is focused on how to end bad faith practice of renovictions and create supports to ensure good landlords can fulfill their obligations while improving units,” Engage Hamilton says.

“The consultant’s analysis will include a review of other jurisdictions and their levels of success dealing with renovictions through a municipal policy lens, as well as being informed by in-person interviews with key stakeholders, and a public survey.”

The elected leadership of Hamilton voted in December 2021 to direct Housing Services to study the New Westminster model. At that time, Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann called it the start of the city “developing the path to (an) anti-renovictions bylaw regime.”

The opening of the survey coincides with a weeks-long saga at an apartment building at 1083 Main St. E., in Ward 3. Tenants have been without running water since Dec. 28 as their landlord claims residents need to be out in order for repairs to be performed. The matter is scheduled to go to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) on March 8.

On Friday, ACORN tweeted a link to a form letter that supporters of the tenants can sign virtually. They say it will be sent to the property owner of 1083 Main St. E., the Caveat LLP paralegals who have been representing them, and to Dylan Suitor, an Oakville realtor whom ACORN says is listed as the company’s president.

A lack of variety in forms within new housing built in the second half of the 2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic, and rents that have risen faster than income levels have spurred a housing deprivation crisis in Hamilton. It is estimated about 1,500 to 1,600 people in the city lack stable housing.

The current survey is open at engage.hamilton.ca/renovictionpolicy.

(Cover image: Rentals.ca.)

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