Organized Tenants Stop Eviction
Today organized tenants successfully stopped an eviction from being carried out in Little Portugal. Timbercreek/Hazelview took ownership of the building less than two months ago and while this eviction was started before they bought the building, they now have a clear decision to make: will they try to drag a single mom and her children out into the cold during a pandemic? Tenants in the building, the neighbourhood and neighbourhoods throughout the city made their position clear today: this family’s life is worth more than Timbercreek/Hazelview’s investments.
All previous attempts made by the tenant to negotiate repayment of the rent she owes was ignored by the landlord. This despite the fact that the company had only just taken over the building in December 2020 and without regard to the tenant’s family situation. The tenant’s unit is home to her and her children.
In response to the landlord’s reckless intransigence, twenty of us arrived at the building yesterday morning before 8am. We handed out flyers explaining the situation of the tenant facing eviction and warning other tenants about Hazelview’s business model of buying up buildings, evicting the tenants who live there, and raising rents on vacant units. Our message was well received by the tenants we spoke to, some of whom joined our outdoor, socially-distanced gathering and offered to support their neighbour.
A Hazelview property manager who was on site at the building observed our action and quickly called her boss, the company’s regional director. When the Hazelview director arrived on the scene tenants demanded she call off the eviction and regularize the family’s tenancy. Tenants made it clear that by directing the removal of the family by the sheriff Hazelview was creating a situation that would likely result in the death of a member of the tenant’s family. Finally Hazelview called off the sheriff for the day and agreed to enter into negotiations with the tenant regarding repayment of rent.
This situation is not over and Hazelview still holds the threat of eviction over the head of this family. We are hopeful that the situation can be resolved through negotiation. However, we are unwilling to stand by if Hazelview decides to reschedule the removal of this family from their home. We will also be following up with the contacts we made with other tenants in the building to engage them in a process of forming their own tenant organization. Only through self-organization do we as working class people develop the power we need to defend our homes and our neighbours.