Tenants in Thorncliffe Park and Gowan Avenue buildings are fighting against an above-the-guideline rent increase proposed by Starlight investments.
Tenants of Starlight investments properties in the two areas said that in May of this year, they received notice of a 4.2 per cent annual rent increase, above the Ontario rent guideline of 1.2 per cent.
Tenants in another building owned by Starlight Investments, at 130 Gowan Avenue, received notice of a 5.5 per cent rent increase, starting January 2023.
Tenants fear the Investment group will apply for another above-guidelines rent increase (AGI) next year.
“It’s going to add unnecessary burden on us,” said Sameer, a long-term tenant of 71 Thorncliffe Park, one of the building affected by the hikes.
Tenants tried to reach out to Starlight Investments to drop the increase, but said they did not hear back.
To reach Starlight investments, tenants began by collecting signatures from fellow residents to ask Starlight Investments to drop the AGI. There are 650 to 700 signatures collected across all the effected buildings.
Additionally, 71, 75, 79 Thorncliffe Park, and 130 Gowan Avenue tenants rallied on Oct. 30 in the Forest Hill neighbourhood of Starlight CEO, Daniel Drimmer, to deliver their message.
On Oct.19, they also interrupted a panel that PSP investments which owns the buildings through Starlight, was participating in at a conference about responsible investing.
“A lot of people are struggling due to the increased cost of living, then on top of that to be hit with such a significant rent increase,” said Philip Zigman from RenovictionTO, a volunteer-run project that seeks to give tenants the tools and information they need to organize and fight back. “It forces people out of their home,” he added.
According to Ontario Landlord Tenant Board, a landlord can apply for an AGI for the following reasons:
- The landlord’s costs for municipal taxes and charges have increased by an “extraordinary” amount.
- The landlord made significant renovations, repairs, replacements, or additions to the building or individual units.
- The landlord’s costs for security services increased, or the landlord began providing security services for the first time.
The Toronto Observer reached out to Starlight for a comment but did not hear back.
According to a report by RenovictionTO, Starlight investments is among top landlord groups who filed for AGIs.
“This rent increase is just to push tenants out,” Sameer said.
Starlight sent out a notice to tenants for a “One-to-One” meeting to discuss any issues pertaining to tenancy, which tenants deemed an unacceptable way of dealing with the situation at hand.
“That’s a sneaky way. They will ask us to stop protesting,” said Khalil, a long-term tenant of 71 Thorncliffe Park, and one of the organizers against the AGIs.
The One-to-One meeting is set to take place on Nov. 9.