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EXCLUSIVE: MetCap meets with striking tenants to negotiate rent increases

Last Updated Sep 25, 2018 at 6:57 pm EST

Hundreds of striking renters in Parkdale could be one step closer to a win after their property manager, MetCap, agreed to meet with them earlier this month, CityNews has learned.

More than 300 tenants across 12 MetCap-owned buildings in the neighbourhood had refused to pay rent in May and June, to protest a proposal to increase rent above the provincial guidelines of 1.5 per cent at six buildings.

Now, CityNews has confirmed officials from MetCap and AIMCo — the two companies that own the buildings — have been meeting with tenant representatives and Parkdale Community Legal Services over the last two weeks to come to an agreement.

“Both sides have had discussions and meetings,” MetCap CEO Brent Merrill told CityNews Saturday.

“We’re hoping together to resolve these issues to everyone’s satisfaction.”

“I was elated,” said Barb Livesay, a striking tenant who lives in a MetCap building. “I thought it was about time — and I think MetCap felt the same way — and we’re both very pleased to be having negotiations underway.”

Tensions between renters and MetCap officials had escalated over the past two months, as more than 200 eviction notices were sent out — some over unauthorized banners hung on balconies advertising the strike.

Merrill said in a show of good faith, the company has now halted the eviction process. And in turn, striking tenants have been encouraged to pay their July rent.

“It was a huge win,” said striking tenant Steve Love, who has been sitting in on the meetings. “I’m not aware of any other landlord that sits down with their tenants and negotiates AGIs (Above Guideline Increases).”

Both sides say they are unable to discuss details of the meeting because of legal reasons, but Love called the process empowering, considering the fear and intense criticism many tenants have faced over their tactics.

“It was a David and Goliath situation,” he said. “I hope that other people are inspired to stand up and take control of their neighbourhoods.”

Related stories:

Parkdale rent strikes take protest to property owner’s front door

Hearing begins for above-guideline rent increases in Parkdale

Teachers, students to join Parkdale rent strikers