The 165 Ontario Story
The AGI Blog
Many tenants living in The 165 have now begun receiving Rent Increase Notices that include Above Guideline Increases (AGIs) in their rent for 2024. This is likely to be only the first of several that are still to come.
AGIs are not simple things. This blog page has been established to help guide tenants at The 165 through the time ahead. It will be updated with news, documents and events as it happens. So be sure to check back here frequently to see the latest.
I strongly recommend that you also read Understanding Agis and How To Fight An Agi before continuing.
About the notice of rent increase
On Friday (Sept. 22, 2023) most of the long term tenants in this building were served a notice of rent increase to take effect on January 1 2024. The increase shown is 5.5%, which is higher than the provincial guideline.
Yes, it's legal for them to do this. "Appropriate" is a whole other question.
On top of the province's allowed 2.5% they are claiming 3% for an Above Guideline Increase (called an AGI). This is most likely related to all the renovations they've been doing.
Each AGI can increase rent by up to 3% on top of the provincial guideline for three years in a row. Then the resulting 9.25% compound increase can last 15 years or more during which time it is subject to annual increases by the provincial allowance. Moreover; nothing says a landlord cannot have more than one AGI on the go at the same time. Long term tenants in this building are currently paying on 4 of them and the last one does not expire until 2032.
This rent increase notice is the first step in a long process. We have been named as respondents in a lawsuit filed with the Landlord Tenant Board. Our landlord is "suing" us for more rent. While the outcome is not certain we are in the game, none the less. This is going to happen whether we want it to or not.
At this point we do not know what claims CLV has filed, how much of a total rent increase they are asking for or when their might be a hearing. I will update this page as more information becomes available.
We have some time to organize and build a committee to deal with this. I strongly advise you to get involved in helping your neighbours to deal with this issue. We need to work as a team. I know it's absurd, but CLV has left us with no choice. We either work together or we end up paying even more ridiculous rents.
Rent reduction for long term tenants
If you have been living at The 165 continuously since the round of renovations in 2007 through 2009, you are entitled to a rent reduction of up to 2% ($20.00 on 1000) This is due to the first AGI (SOL-26605) expiring on July 1st of this year.
This is pre-arranged. Negotiated with CLV way back in March. All you have to do is claim it.
If you haven't claimed this rent reduction yet, you have been overpaying for 3 months and you may have a lump sum rebate coming. Also, if you have not claimed the reduction, the calculations on the new notice you received are for to too high an amount, so that will have to be adjusted.
It is essential that you complete this step as soon as possible, if you are not to be charged too much on this new AGI.
To claim your rent reduction, contact Maggie Kilts at the local office on Lake Street. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 905-646-0861 during business hours. Be sure to give your full name, address and unit number and use the file reference SOL-26605 when claiming your rent reduction.
You will then be informed of the amount of your reduction, any overpayments and what your new rent is. Also be sure to ask for an adjustment on this new rent increase notice, while you're at it.
Rent payment options
Under Ontario law a landlord can begin billing rents at AGI values before there is a Tribunal order increasing rent. But you need to understand that before there is a tribunal order we do not actually owe him that money, nor can he evict us for not paying it.
This is spelled out in the Residential Tenancies Act part 126.
- (5) If an application is made under this section and the landlord has given a notice of rent increase as required, until an order authorizing the rent increase for the rental unit takes effect, the landlord shall not require the tenant to pay a rent that exceeds the lesser of,
- the new rent specified in the notice; and
- the greatest amount that the landlord could charge without applying for a rent increase.
(6)Despite subsection (5), the tenant may choose to pay the amount set out in the notice of rent increase pending the outcome of the landlord's application and, if the tenant does so, the landlord shall owe to the tenant any amount paid by the tenant exceeding the amount allowed by the order of the Board.
This gives you some options in how you deal with the rent increase before a tribunal order finalizes it.
- A) You can pay the full amount
- In this case you would pay the amount asked for on the increase notice, waiting until our landlord adjusts your rent and repays any overpayments after the tribunal order is issued. This, however, carries the risk the rent adjustment might not take place, for some reason.
- B) You can pay only the provincial part of the increase
- Calculate the province's 2.5% on top of your current rent and pay this amount. This will keep your rent down each month, but when an order is issued any arrears this creates will be due immediately. Your best bet, in this case, is to keep the rest of the increase in a bank account so you have it on hand when the order is issued.
If you choose option B you will need to inform CLV of your intentions and confirm any amounts with them before proceeding. You can do this with Maggie Kilts in the local admin office. You can send email to email@example.com or you can call 905-646-0861 during business hours.
So what can we do now?
At this point in the process, we actually know very little about what this landlord has up his sleeve. We know at least one AGI has been filed and not much else.By recent reports the Landlord Tenant Board's tribunal is backed up with about 38,000 applications. That's a lot. This is creating long time delays and the current best guess is that it could be a up to a year before we receive service and notice of a hearing. But make no mistake... It is coming.
Moreover; given the Extraordinary Amount Of Work they've done on this building, there is good reason to believe more than one AGI is coming. We could actually be looking at multiple overlapping applications, each with their own rent increases.
So, for the moment it's a waiting game where none of us is sure of what is coming or when.
This, however does not mean we should sit back and do nothing. In fact there are a number of things we should be doing at this point in the process:
- If ever there was a building that needs a strong tenant's committee this is the one and the right time to get this up and running is now. There truly is strength in numbers.
There is no risk to you for starting or joining a tenant's committee, you cannot be evicted and any interference can be strongly punished. This much is set out in the Residential Tenancies Act Part 233 which says:
- A person is guilty of an offence if the person knowingly,
- harasses, hinders, obstructs or interferes with a tenant in the exercise of,
- securing a right or seeking relief under this Act or in a court,
- participating in a proceeding under this Act, or
- participating in a tenants' association or attempting to organize a tenants' association;
- harasses, coerces, threatens or interferes with a tenant in such a manner that the tenant is induced to vacate the rental unit;
- harasses, hinders, obstructs or interferes with a tenant in the exercise of,
I will be happy to help coordinate a committee startup. If you are interested please contact me in Email Giving me your name, unit number and phone number. I will contact you to discuss it further.
- A person is guilty of an offence if the person knowingly,
- This is a good time to become politically active in seeking legal reform and fairness for tenants. There are a number of key players you can write to, in email, to make your voices heard:
Name Position Doug Ford Premier of Ontario firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Calandra Minister of Housing Paul.Calandra@pc.ola.org Jessica Bell NDP Housing Critic JBell-QP@ndp.on.ca Stephan Blais Liberal Housing Critic email@example.com Jenny Stevens MPP for St Catharines JStevens-QP@ndp.on.ca Matt Siscoe Mayor of St Catharines firstname.lastname@example.org
For my part in this I've just completed the preliminary interviews for an upcoming news story to be published in the St Catharines Standard. This is the second article in a series, the
First Article published last December.
If you would like to be interviewed for this upcoming article, please contact me in Email giving me your first and last name, unit number and phone number. I'll pass it on to the reporter so he can contact you.
AGI Defence Committee
An Above Guideline Increase, called an AGI, is the most complex litigation a landlord can file with the Landlord Tenant Board. On the practical level it amounts to a landlord suing his tenants for more rent.
CLV has filed at least one AGI application. We need to get ready to defend against it in a Tribunal hearing.
In most lawsuits the answer has been to hire a lawyer and turn it over to them. However; this has not been a successful tactic with AGIs as the best defence relies heavily on building history and it's condition right before the work began, which neither a lawyer nor short term tenants will have any access to. This most often brings a finding in favour of the landlord, because the tenants are not able to mount a credible defence.
I've been here through this whole thing and have the historical information needed to mount a proper defence. I've also been successful in more than one AGI hearing with past landlords.
If you will have me, I will be happy to lead the tenant's defence in the up-coming cases. Don't forget, I have a dog in this fight too!
But no matter who we choose to defend us, we will all need to act in a coordinated way if we are to succeed. So it is necessary to form a defence committee of proactive tenants and supporters.
If you can give a bit of time to help with this effort please send me an
Email with your full name, unit number and phone number, so I can contact you.
(Your information will be held in strict confidence.)
Your privacy concerns
A couple of people have expressed concerns that they were being monitored or logged as they visit this site.
Rest assured, your privacy here is fully protected.
- We do not keep logs.
- The site's stats show only numbers of visits.
- There is no way to identify anyone who visits or how often.
- There is no way any landlord can discover your visits to this site.
So you can feel free to explore in complete anonymity.
The 165 in the news
The St Catharines Standard has just published the second in a series of articles about landlords abusing AGIs, this time focusing on the difficulties they cause for tenants. You can read it online ... HERE
You can read both articles without the paywall by clicking on the "Menu" tab and selecting: In the news 1 and In the news 2
The Ice Cold Hallway Problem
This building uses fans, mounted on the roof, to maintain airflow. Each apartment has exhaust vents in their kitchen and bathroom. The shared, central hallways have pressure vents at their front and back sections.
During the summer this works nicely to keep the air fresh. But in the winter the pressure vents in the hallways will flood them with outdoor temperature air taking the temperature as low as 6 or 7 degrees celsius. This ice cold air is then pushed through our apartments by the combination of higher pressure in the halls and lower pressure in the apartments, leaving us shivering with cold drafts everywhere.
The solution to this problem, for the last 30 years, has been to simply turn off the hallway fans in the winter. The flow of ice cold air was stopped and the hallway temperatures were typically 1 or 2 degrees below those of the apartments. The in-unit vents kept air moving and took any smells or fumes out through the roof.
For reasons mysterious, CLV decided not to do this last year, leaving us with ice cold hallways and cold drafts pouring through our apartments. Nobody was warm enough.
I took the matter to the Bylaw Enforcement office at city hall but to my surprise they refused to enforce this even though the Vital Services Bylaw itself, had wording to indicate they would. Then they took it one step further and actually convinced Council to Remove Hallways from the bylaw entirely.
CLV has, so far this year, continued to run these fans even as temperatures ramp down into winter and once again nobody will be warm or comfortable in their own homes. So, I have written a Letter to the city clerk's office asking Council to reconsider their rather silly decision and mandate proper enforcement of the bylaw.
If you want to add your own letter to mine, you can write to City Council at the
If you would like to express your discomfort to CLV you can send email to their St Catharines Admin office.
One freezing cold winter was more than enough!
St. Catharines City Council Meeting (1 update)
Just a quick note to let you know there is a City Council meeting to day. This will include my letter to the City Clerk's office about the ice cold hallways in this and other buildings. I am asking them to re-open the issue and reconsider their previous decision to exclude hallways from the Vital Services bylaw.
The meeting will be live-streamed on their YouTube channel at.. www.stcatharines.ca/youtube starting at 6:30pm
No motion to re-open the issue was presented in council. Other solutions will be explored and followed.
And more to come...