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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.

Please note that a full disclosure of all documents is planned. The only redaction will be that which is necessary to protect a tenant's privacy. Everything else will be fully disclosed.

Latest

#
Date
Title (Click to open and close)
1
2023-09-23
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.

2
2023-09-23
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 stcatharines-admin@rentclv.com 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.

3
2023-09-24
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.

  1. (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,
    1. the new rent specified in the notice; and
    2. 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.

2006, c. 17, s. 126.

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.
When considering your options, keep in mind that this is only the first rent increase on the first AGI. There will be several more and any arrears you accumulate could become rather substantial as could any overpayments at the end of all this.

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 stcatharines-admin@rentclv.com or you can call 905-646-0861 during business hours.

4
2022-10-11
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:

5
2023-10-22
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.)

6
2023-09-28
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.

So you can feel free to explore in complete anonymity.

7
2023-11-02
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 both articles without the paywall by clicking on the "Menu" tab and selecting: In the news 1 and In the news 2

8
2023-11-08
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 Clerk's Office.
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!

9
2023-11-27
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


Update 2023-12-01:
No motion to re-open the issue was presented in council. Other solutions will be explored and followed.

10
2023-12-26
CLV is re-branding itself (1 update)

Early this afternoon, after a false fire alarm, I called the local admin office to find out how long it was going to take for them to turn off the alarm bells.

To my surprise, the answering message said "Thank you for calling Interrent" and then went on to explain they are dropping the CLV part of their previous name: "CLV-Interrent". It's a cute administrative move, but I wonder what the reasons are and I wonder when they planned to tell us.


UPDATE: Checking with our building manager, I'm told that the only likely impact of the rebranding is that the payee names might change if we are using online banking. So best check your accounts to be sure all is good.

11
2024-01-17
Water? What water?

We had a bit of an emergency in the building. Apparently a water main broke where it comes into the building necessitating a complete water shutdown for most of the day.

Water has been restored in the building as of about midnight last night. However; our front steps are torn up pretty good. If you must navigate throug that area, please do so carefully.

A secondary water shutdown is now scheduled for Friday Jan. 19th 2024, to complete the repairs.

12
2024-01-20
Blacklisting in Ontario

Like we need more proof that landlords don't care about tenants...
Today the CBC News is featuring a story about "Openroom" which is a Blacklist For Bad Tenants... started by an angry landlord, of course.

You can watch her rant on YouTube

Checking the Openroom Site, it appears to be far more interested in collecting $10,000 than provideing information but it does list thousands of entries in a searchable format, many of which are accompanied by LTB orders.

While blacklisting individuals is not illegal in Canada, defaming is, and practices like these raise profound questions about isolation and disenfranchisement. Plus, the morality behind this kind of thing is deeply questionable.

This Openrooom site is likely to create more homeless people than evictions ever could.

13
2024-02-14
Site update and revisions

I've been busy updating and revising website.

I've added links at the bottom of each page that will let you read "The 165 Ontario Story" in order from start to end.

The menu order has also been changed to reflect the reading order.

The Tenant Safety Issues page has also been updated to include some workplace safety recommendations.

14
2024-03-25
Better Contact Page

A number of people expressed concern about using the default email client as a contact mechanism. So, I've added a contact form. Now, when you fill out the form, it will send me an email and, unlike most, it should also send you a copy of your message.

The new form is listed in the Menu and you can try it out HERE

15
2024-04-12
Spreading Awareness

It is a long and slow process --glaciers move faster-- but awareness of the underhanded and dishonest tactics being used by landlords in this province is spreading. People are beginning to understand the severity of landlords' tactics being used against tenants in Ontario.

An April 11th Article in the St Catharines Standard talks about a report prepared by The Canadian centre for Policy Alternatives, which is online at The Monitor. This is a six part report and I urge you to read all of it. Parts 2 and 3 deal specifically with AGIs, so pay special attention to them.

Beyond these new reports, we must also appreciate that many of the "renovations" claimed on AGIs should not qualify for rent increases to begin with. This is the result of an AGI Playbook, the stuff landlords do and claim whenever taking over a building whether it is necessary or not. The example in the False Claims section of the main page of this site shows us very clearly there was nothing wrong with the balconies but our landlord went ahead and renovated them anyway.

Even with gains in understanding over the past year, the full depth and impact of this massive scam (and it is a scam) are still not being understood or fully explored. There are layers to this issue that I've never seen mentioned anywhere, except in the pages of this site. There truly is still a long way to go before this is fixed.

In particular the question of "How is this getting past the LTB's adjudicators?" rings very loudly. Thanks to repeated success in pushing these bad claims through LTB hearings and gaining millions in undeserved rent increases, landlords now feel completely entitled to play this game. After more than 15 years of this, one might reasonably expect the LTB to be wise to the game and taking steps to prevent the filing of these Bogus AGIs. Yet, in reality, I've seen no hint of any such awareness.

As I write this we are waiting for the court papers for the 5th AGI for this building. They could arrive any day now.
So, lets ask what we can do to expose this fully into the light of day?

Get involved in the solution, before you are defeated by the problem!

16
2024-04-17
Article in CBC news

CBC news has just published a major article outlining the AGI problem in Ontario and guess what.. The 165 is on the list!

Just a few big landlords come up, again and again, in analysis of Ontario rent hikes

Here is a list of St Catharines buildings affected, extracted from the story's data base...

      "1 CLARK STREET, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2R7L5",2
      "1 ST. LAWRENCE VILLAGE, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2M4G2",1
      "144 PELHAM ROAD, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2S1V2",1
      "16 TOWERING HEIGHTS BLVD, ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2T3G9",1
      "165 ONTARIO STREET, ST.CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2R5K4",1
      "20 BRADMON DRIVE, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2M3S5",1
      "24 IDA STREET, ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2R3X5",1
      "241 ST PAUL STREET WEST, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2S2E5",1
      "242 LINWELL ROAD, ST CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2N1S2",1
      "284-286 VINE STREET, ST CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2M4T3",1
      "292 OAKDALE AVENUE, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2P3T3",2
      "327 QUEENSTON STREET, ST. CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2P2X8",1
      "33 LEASIDE DRIVE, ST.CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2M4G2",2
      "367 GENEVA STREET, ST. CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2N5S8",1
      "568 ONTARIO STREET, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2N4N7",1
      "608 & 610 LAKE STREET, ST. CATHERINES, ONTARIO L2N5S9",1
      "608 LAKE STREET, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2N5S9",2
      "610 LAKE STREET, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2N5T1",1
      "64 ROEHAMPTON AVENUE, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2M7P5",1
      "80A ROCKWOOD AVENUE, ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2P3P2",1
      "87 ROCKWOOD AVENUE, ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO L2P3V3",1
  

It's about time the news took this story on!

And more to come as things happen...

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