The tenants at39 Riverwood Parkwayrecently won a significant victory in conjuntion with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO). The Federation, through funding from the Trillium Foundation, was also a part of this success story.
The landlord of a small Etobicoke apartment building decided to remove the balconies from the building rather than make the repairs to them that were ordered by the City. The tenants were only notified of this decision a few days before the demolition began. Once the work was done, the affected tenants got together and asked the landlord to reduce their rent by 10% to compensate for the loss of the balconies.
The landlord did not respond to this request so the tenants retained ACTO to bring a case for the rent reduction to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The landlord managed to delay the case for a few months, but eventually it was heard on January 13. Tenants provided moving evidence, in writing and in person, about what these balconies meant to them and how they contributed to the sense of community in the building.
On February 20, the Board issued its decision. Member Carey decided that a balcony is one of the “services and facilities” that the tenants were paying for and the removal of the balcony is a substantial interference with the tenants’ enjoyment. She agreed with the tenants that the rent should be reduced by 10% on an ongoing basis from the day that the balconies were removed.
The decision is an important reminder to tenants and landlords that tenants have the right to have their rent reduced if things are taken away that the landlord has agreed to provide and the Landlord and Tenant Board will enforce this right. It is also a reminder that these cases are most successful when the affected tenants organize and work together.
For coverage in the Toronto Star, visit:
“Juliet Balconies Wherefore Art Thou”
“Tenants Seek Rent Rebate for Losing Balconies”