Posted by TenantNet on May 20, 1996 at 00:51:05:
In Reply to: Greetings from Ottawa posted by Dave Loan on May 16, 1996 at 15:53:03:
Also from usenet:
eye WEEKLY January 11 1996
Toronto's arts newspaper .....free every Thursday
NEWS & VIEWS NEWS & VIEWS
BEG FOR MERCY, TENANT SCUM
Provincial government's advice for renters?
Tory Housing Minister Al Leach wants us to believe that his [photo here]
government will continue to look after the interests of
Ontario's tenants. To believe this takes a real leap of
faith, considering Leach plans to sell off the province's social housing
stock and scrap rent control.
Last fall Leach told a roomful of home builders that he would get rid of
"regulation and red tape" in the building business. They cheered. Weeks
later he told another roomful of landlords from the Fair Rental Policy
Organization that one of his priorities was to change the Landlord and
Tenant Act to make for speedier evictions of tenants. They cheered.
Leach isn't getting much applause from tenants' rights activists, or even
from Metro politicians like the Parkdale Poodle, Chris Korwin-Kuczynski, who
has asked tenants to bombard the minister's office with phone calls
demanding he preserve the current rent control system.
Renters' rights activist Howard Tressler of the Federation of Metro Tenants
Association says Leach "has a head full of cheese," and that new legislation
could leave tenants "up shit creek."
The case of Stephen Bustard vs. Kevin Kenney highlights what happens when
low income tenants meet unscrupulous landlords.
>From May, 1992 to February, 1995, Bustard was employed by Kenney as a
building superintendent. Bustard looked after 17 properties, collecting
rents and acting as a middle- man between Kenney and his tenants and
contractors. During a lengthy interview, Bustard claimed Kenney
double-booked units and cheated prospective tenants out of rental deposits.
"The tenants Kenney ripped off were poor people and students," says Bustard,
"and he never worried about his tenants taking him to court. Kenney figured
`who is a judge going to believe, a guy in a suit or some longhair?' "
Bustard said he eventually grew tired of being Kenney's scapegoat and quit
last February. He and his family stayed on as $800-a-month tenants in a
In October Kenney discovered that Bustard was planning to testify on behalf
of a contractor to whom Kenney owed money. Kenney gave the Bustards seven
days to vacate their apartment. Bustard and Kenney worked out an agreement
giving the Bustards time to find another home, but on the morning of Nov. 9,
the cops and the Sheriff arrived at the door and told them they had to be
out by 10 a.m. While the Bustards were leaving, Kenney's agents began
removing the family's possessions -- computers, appliances, tools,
furniture... everything of value.
The Bustards have found another apartment and Bustard is trying to recover
his possessions. A bailiff told Bustard that Kenney's agents will return the
goods if Bustard pays a storage bill of $750. Bustard showed eye a copy of
the actual storage bill -- it indicates a cost of $73.76.
The rest of this battle will be fought in the courts. Kenney has been
charged with theft over $5,000, and he's scheduled to appear in court early
in January. Kenney has counter- charged Bustard with uttering death threats.
Bustard's situation is not unique. Debbie May, a lawyer with Bloor Legal
Services, which is representing Bustard, says, "Illegal evictions happen on
a regular basis. People come home and find that all their locks have been
"Once Leach introduces his anti-tenant legislation there will be no
effective legislation in place to control landlords. Some offences covered
in the Landlord Tenant Act carry fines as high as $5,000, but landlords
don't even get charged."
Leach's communications assistant, Christine Burkitte, says, "the minister
will insure that all tenants are protected" by forthcoming legislation. But
after speaking with Burkitte, I had the impression that the government has
no plan, other than to bail out of public housing and scrap rent controls.
During the debate in the Legislature around the omnibus bill, Leach was
shown to be a stumbling, ill-informed politician. Tenants' associations have
already appealed to him to reconsider the changes. The minister had better
pay attention to Metro's tenants -- there are more than 1 million of us, and
that's a lot of votes.
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