Toronto: evictions protest (fwd)

Leslie Schentag (wy497@victoria.tc.ca)
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 13:12:19 -0800 (PST)


  Leslie Schentag
  Gremlin Research Consultants
  Web Site: http://firms.findlaw.com/gremlinz


  "When Freedom Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Be Free"
					-F.T.W. Productions, 1992.

 "It is better do die on your feet than live a lifetime on your knees"
					-Emiliano Zapata


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 12:47:31 -0800
From: Grassroots News Network <gnn@grassrootsnews.org>
Subject: Toronto: evictions protest



TORONTO   PROTEST  AGAINST  EVICTIONS
=======================================

Stop homelessness where it starts . . .

Stop the Harris Government's Eviction Factory!

Protest the Ontario government's Rental Housing
Tribunal and so-called "Tenant Protection Act"

Join Toronto Action for Social Change, tenants,
activists, homeless, concerned citizens on

Monday February 22, 12 noon - 56 Wellesley West
(Bay & Wellesley)

If you have been evicted or know someone who
has, please let them know about this event.

This is a non-violent event. Everyone welcome!

--------------------------------------------------
*  In the first eight months of the Tribunal some
30,000 applications were made by landlords to
evict tenants.

* Half were in Toronto, in one of the three
district offices. The office at 56 Wellesely hears
over 60 cases a day.

*  Most applications are to evict. Under half the
total number of evictions go through the system.
Many tenants do not have the resources to mount a
legal challenge.

*  There is now a financial incentive for
landlords to evict tenants called "vacancy
decontrol" -- once a unit becomes vacant the
landlord is allowed to charge whatever he wants.

*  Evictions have increased due to 21% cuts to
welfare and the loss of rent subsidies.

*  Evictions in social housing are expected to
increase as private sector management takes over
-- a direct result of Harris' downloading of
social housing to municipalities.

*  Rents are doubling in some areas of the city.
Many fraudulent applications to evict are being
brought forward by landlords.

*  There were over 10,000 'default judgements'
against tenants. This usually happened because the
tenants did not file a dispute. Under the new law
tenants have only five days (real days--weekends
and holidays too) to file a dispute.

*  The Ministry of Housing calls the new system a
"streamlining" of evictions. There are so many
evictions filed by landlords the South Central
office, 56 Wellelsey, has an enourmous back log.

*  Tenants who are out of town and for whom
English is not a first language are at a
disadvantage, in terms of filing a dispute within
the given time.

*  Over 90% of all applications were made by
landlords; 97% of the total applications are filed
by landlords" according to the Landlord Source
Centre.

*  "I'd say about half the eviction cases, mabye
more, at the Tribunal are bogus" says paralegal
Sandy Hutchens - Toronto Star

*  The Tenant Protection Act and Tribunal
Regulations (which govern the Tribunal procedures)
were written in close consultation with landlords
and landlord lawyers and condo development
consortiums.

*  Tenants consultation was almost completely
excluded and their suggestions ignored during the
Bill 96 Hearings, presided over by Tory Steve
Gilchrest, assistant to Al Leach. Gilchrest yelled
at tenants and their advocates and praised
landlords and developers.

*  The Tribunal is adjudicated by Harris
appointees, appointed by the Ministry of Housing.
Most are lawyers and former rent control
adjudicators.

*  Most evictions are for arrears -- non-payment
of rent. Rents have gone up at least across the
city (over 7% according the CMHC). Economic
evictions are a major leading cause of
homelessness.

*  "Over the next five years Toronto could lose
25,000 to 50,000 low-rent apartments annually as
rents rise. Over 100,000 people are currently on
waiting lists for affordable housing.  - Golden
Report.

*  "It's factory evictions . . . I would call it a
disaster. It's a new kind of housing crisis. I
think it's the direct cause of homelessness." -
Nancy Hindmarsh, tenant duty counsel - NOW
magazine

*  The big emphasis in the new system is
mediation, but mediation assumes an even playing
feild where none exists -- on one side are
landlord lawyers with years' experience -- at the
other table are inexperienced frightened tenants
about to lose their home.

*  The Tribunal replaces Landlord and Tenant
Court. Judges are not part of the new system. It
is now a "quasi-judicial" body. Appeals are
possible only where there is a clerical error or
dispute over a point of law.

*  Tenants who dispute their case too strongly can
be charged with  "harassment" by the landlord.
Ministry of Housing official Jim Dyl told
landlords, "we added this part as a measure
against 'professional tenants.'" What about
'professional landlords?'

*  Many landlords do not take the new sytem
seriously; they believe the law is supposed to go
completely in their favour. "The Tenant Protection
Act is a step in the right direction" according to
FRPOO, a landlord lobby group.

*  Clinic legal worker Sam Kuhn reports
"Adjudicators often do not listen to tenants, and
they are not awarding the penalites they  have
powers to award. Landlords have no respect for the
Tribunal or adjudicators. That's why  we need the
authority of the court system."

*  Legal clinics are having to turn away people
who need help because they are underfunded and
understaffed due to Harris' attack on the legal
aid / legal clinic system.


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