Acorn Hamilton calling on all Ontario towns to pass anti-renoviction bylaws


Published January 23, 2024 at 2:53 pm

Five years after Canada’s first renoviction bylaw became law in New Westminster, B.C., Hamilton followed suit when City Council unanimously approved the Renovations License and Relocation bylaw to protect tenants who get kicked out of their homes under the often false premise of renovations.

Hamilton is the first Ontario municipality to pass local bylaws protecting vilnurable tenants from questionable business practices.

Acorn Hamilton has been advocating for the bylaw for the past five years and the tenants’ organization is now challenging other cities in Ontario to do the same.

“When we organize we WIN.” was the response on social media for Hamilton Acorn members after the City’s General Issues Committee voted to ratify the bylaw January 17.

“Today was only made possible because Hamilton Acorn members kept on the pressure for the past five years to push for this critical anti-renoviction protection,” the tenants rights group said on Facebook after the bylaw was passed. “We know that people power works to make real change, and the momentum from today doesn’t stop with the city of Hamilton.”

The original bylaw in New Westminster, part of Greater Vancouver, reduced the total number of renovictions from 333 (between 2016 and 2018) to zero and Acorn members in the Steel City and at the provincial office were “ecstatic” to see Hamilton approve tenant protections that are expected to significantly reduce the number of affordable units being “systematically removed” by landlords taking

“Vacancy decontrol is like a magnet for landlords trying to increase profits at the expense of long-term tenants,” said Ontario Acorn leader Alejandra Ruiz-Vargas. “The Province has created this problem but cities like Hamilton are stepping up.”

Each year Ontario loses 20,000 units of affordable housing, so just focusing on housing supply won’t make a dent in the housing crisis, she added. Earlier last year, the Province made some legislative changes (which Ruiz-Vargas labelled “weak”) concerning renovictions but they “didn’t address the root of the problem.”

In addition to having every municipality in the province pass renoviction by-laws, Acorn is also demanding the Ontario government remove the financial incentive to ‘renovict’ tenants by introducing full rent control.

Hamilton is in the middle of a worsening housing crisis and Acorn members have been clear that one of the contributing factors has been a sharp increase in the number of renovictions, a practice where landlords push out long-term tenants on the premise of renovations, freeing up the building owners to raise rents much higher than legally allowed if the tenants were to stay.

The new Hamilton bylaw will require landlords to:

  • Apply for a licence within seven days of issuing a tenant a N13
  • Provide tenants with a Tenant’s Rights and Entitlements Package
  • Provide tenants wishing to exercise their right to return to their unit (at the same rent) with temporary accommodation or a rental top up for the duration of the renovations

“Housing is a human right. Yet renovictions are forcing tenants out of their affordable homes to give way to higher rent apartments,” Hamilton Acorn said in their four-prong platform for the City’s 2024 budget deliberations.

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