“Landlord problem? Check the legislation!” we are told.
“Can this be legal?” others comment on the latest media story of landlord predation.
For renters struggling with eviction, high rent, and poor conditions the real question is this: collectively, how do we raise the cost of the landlords’ objectionable conduct to them as a class?
The landlord-tenant relationship is based on exploitation. Landlords extract rents through their ownership of land and property. We who own no property pay rent.
The government enforces the landlord-tenant relationship. When it mediates between landlords and tenants it does not fundamentally change the relationship. The rule of law ensures landlords collect rent.
“Is the landlord breaking the law?”
The law says landlords must keep rentals in “a good state of repair”. Yet landlords keep buildings in working-class districts in substandard conditions. For the majority of us, legal standards are not enforced.
Landlords break the law to evict tenants. Bogus “landlord’s own use” and “renovictions” (N12 and N13) are on the rise. There is no systematic prosecution of offending landlords.
Landlords often refuse to rent units to people on Ontario Works or ODSP. In Parkdale, some landlords have turned away prospective tenants because they are Roma. Despite human rights legislation, landlords rent to whomever they choose and often to the highest bidder. The state does not intervene.
The government recently cancelled rent control on new units. Soon it will move to speed up evictions. The Landlord and Tenant Board already rubber-stamps above guideline rent increases at an alarming rate.
Strength in Numbers
When we organize, we have power. Organized with our neighbours we beat rent increases and evictions, and improve conditions. It’s not easy but the work pays off. It’s a more dignified way of living.
When in doubt, don’t move out. Talk to your neighbours. Educate yourselves and make a plan. You’re more powerful than you think.