Update: Hamilton tenants protest rent increase, living conditions at apartment building

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Published November 18, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Hamilton tenants protest rent increase, living conditions at apartment building
Residents at a pair of downtown Hamilton apartment buildings, 125 Wellington (pictured) and 50 Cathcart St,. took to the streets Friday afternoon, protesting a rent increase and poor living conditions.

Residents at a pair of downtown Hamilton apartment buildings took to the streets Friday afternoon, protesting a rent increase and poor living conditions in properties owned by Equiton Living Inc.

The 4.5 per cent rent increase is above-guideline in Ontario. Last June, the government capped increases at 2.5 per cent for 2023 unless permission is granted by the Landlord and Tenant Board for a higher increase.

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The demonstration outside 125 Wellington St. is being organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The group, which describes itself as a Canada-wide, membership-based community union of low and moderate-income people, says the proposed 4.5 per cent rent increase will result in low-income families paying as much as $75 extra per month.

UPDATE: Equiton responded to an email from inthehammer.com, saying they applied for an Above Guideline Increase (AGI) of 2.08 per cent (on top of the 2.5 cap) to recoup the costs of major repairs “that needed to be completed to ensure a safe environment for residents.”

In addition to the rent increase, tenants at 125 Wellington and 50 Cathcart St. say Equiton has ignored maintenance requests and many other concerns.

Hamilton tenants protest rent increase, living conditions at apartment building

125 Wellington (background) and 50 Cathcart (foreground).

“Residents have long complained of issues such as vermin and bed bugs infesting units, garbage piled up around the building, unannounced water shut-offs and their concerns being ignored by building management,” according to ACORN. “Other issues include urgent repairs taking over six months, broken buzzer systems, and elevators.”

Meanwhile, Equiton says pest control is a “key priority.”

“It was an issue when we purchased the building, and we are committed to resolving it,” they said. “To date, we have spent $90,000 on pest control initiatives, including hiring a pest control consultant to help us get the issue under control.”

“We expect the issue to be resolved pending cooperation from all impacted residents.”

Tenant and ACORN member Pauline Roberts says the property management company has mistreated residents.

“They are only focused on cosmetic repairs and ignore much-needed repairs in existing tenants’ units,” she claims. “Tenants in the building are low-wage workers, ODSP recipients, and newcomers. A 4.5% rent increase means less money for food and other essential needs.”

The property management company says many of the improvements and repairs were due to deferred maintenance that existed at purchase, as well as the age of the building, and were structural or necessary for the safety and comfort of residents — not cosmetic.

“We take customer service very seriously, and resident satisfaction is a focus for us at Equiton Living,” they added. “After taking over management of the property, we’ve brought in new on-site staff whose key focus is on improving customer service and the resident experience.”

“Our onsite management team works hard to quickly address any resident concerns, including maintenance requests, and residents have a variety of ways to raise concerns. We are working hard to continually improve the resident experience.”

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