Four months of Thorncliffe rent strike has Landlord Tenant Board fast track their hearing

1 September 2023 / by Owen Thompson

After four months of striking due to above guideline rent increases, residents of Thorncliffe Park have received notices of hearing from the Landlord Tenant Board of Ontario.

There are three buildings currently on strike at Thorncliffe: tenants in buildings 71, 75 and 79 are participating in the strike.

The strikes started due to a disagreement between the tenants of Thorncliffe and Starlight Investments who manage the buildings on strike. Starlight wanted to raise the rent of the Thorncliffe above provincial guidelines.

Sameer Beyan, one of the organizers and tenants at Thorncliffe, says that the rent has been increased by 5.5 per cent. On the Ontario government website, the guideline has the rate at a 2.54 per cent increase in 2023.

On Aug. 22, Thorncliffe Park tenants announced that they have received letters from the Landlord Tenant Board. The letters say that the eviction notices they received in May have fast tracked. Now they have until Sept. 15 to respond to the hearing.

The notice is over 30 pages with five full pages of names of tenants who have to respond to the notice. Also attached is Starlight’s request and reasons of why their case should be moved ahead in the queue. They allege that Philip Zigman and Cole Webman of RenovictionsTO have helped organize Thorncliffe tenants to create a harassment campaign towards Starlight staff at their places of residence as well as releasing the names of Starlight family members.

“Their mandate appears to be to harass, hinder, obstruct and interfere with landlords who file applications at the Landlord Tenant Board. In particular landlords who seek relief under the RTA by filing above guideline increase,” says Starlight in their request to shorten time. “The foreseeable risks include ongoing harassment, workplace violence, and both physical and psychological harm fomented by the extreme hateful and partisan rhetoric used in their characterization of the landlord’s conduct in filing an AGI.”

In a press release from the Thorncliffe tenants, Zigman responds to the allegations made by Thorncliffe through their request.

“The landlords’ request not only mischaracterizes the organizing efforts in response to the proposed rent hikes, but makes numerous false claims and baseless allegations,” says Zigman. “The LTB is setting a dangerous precedent that undermines tenant organizing in Ontario.”

While the strike has been going on Beyan says they have not heard word from Starlight the entire time before and during the strike. He says that the request is the first response they have gotten regarding the strike.

“We have been trying to push Starlight as well, they need to give us a commitment to stop this above the above guideline increase or to withdraw it,” says Beyan. “Instead, there was no kind of commitment or any answer from a person. Even in communication [through] email, it has to do mostly with routine work like requests for maintenance or other things.”

MET Radio reached out to Starlight for comment regarding the Landlord Tenant Boards’ decisions to fast track their Above guideline request. Below is their full response.

“Thank you for reaching out to Starlight for comment on the issues at Thorncliffe Park. Your email was forwarded to me for our response, as spokesperson for Starlight Investments. As this matter has now been referred to the Landlord Tenant Board, we do not feel it is appropriate to provide additional comment at this time as we do not wish to prejudice the proceedings. Thank you for the opportunity to respond,” says Danny Roth, spokesperson for Starlight Investments.

More information regarding the strike can be read on MET Radio.

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