Does your Vote Count

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					   The Tenant
    March 2003               Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations
                             - Fighting for Tenants’ Rights since 1974 -

                   Does your Vote Count?
                  By Dan McIntyre
In this Issue:
                      Ever hear anyone say    an X beside someone’s         buildings are a poll all
• Hotline         “Why bother to vote…my      name.                         on their own or with the
  Questions       vote doesn’t matter?”           Don’t wait until          next door building. A
  of the Month    There is a Provincial       Election Day. People          smart politician takes
• A Predator      election coming up and      make up their minds           notes of the polls where
  that isn’t a    your vote does matter…      several days before an        a lot of people voted.
  Landlord        and so do all tenant        election. Tenant              That affects their
• “Red Tape” or   votes.                      Associations can              thinking on issues.
  Red Herring?        Many elections are      encourage candidates to             We have heard
                  decided by a few            have lobby meetings so        many politicians say
• Increase Your   hundred votes. Many         we can see who we are         over the last few years
  Voting Power    apartment buildings have    voting for (or against). Go   “tenants don’t vote” and
                  hundreds of voters.         to all candidate meetings     that’s why we are stuck
                  Maybe your building will    or call in to television      with the Tenant
                  decide an election.         shows where candidates        Protection Act. Let’s
                      But many of our         debate. Ask them what         change that. Talk to
                  faithful members and        they are going to do for      your neighbours and
                  readers always vote. We     tenants.                      talk to newcomers.
                  also shake our heads at         Voting is a perfectly     Increase our voting
                  our neighbours who don’t    selfish act. Landlords        power!
                  vote.                       vote and they support               Visit our web site at
                      You can increase        candidates that they like.
                  your voting power!          We outnumber landlords!       for help in ensuring that
  I’m a           Spend time talking to           There is another thing    you are on the voters’
 TENANT           those neighbours and        that successful politicians   list.
                  convince them to vote for   take into account.
  and I           your preferred candidate.   Although your vote is
  VOTE            Convince at least 5         secret, it is no secret who
                  people who never voted      voted and who did not.
                  before to get off their     Voters are assigned a
                  “you know whats” and put    poll. Many apartment
Page 2                                                                                          The Tenant

                                   Hotline Questions of the Month
                                    By Beth McNabb
                                                             Q. Can the landlord ask for an increase on my
                                                             last month's rent deposit?
    Q. Is it true my landlord owes me 6% interest on my
    last months rent deposit?                                A. Your landlord can ask for an increase on your
                                                             rent deposit, each time the rent increases, in an
    A. Your landlord is required to pay you 6% interest      amount that will bring your deposit up to the level
    once a year on your rent deposit. If your landlord       of your new rent. Some landlords may deduct the
    doesn't pay you this interest each year by your          increase in the rent deposit (for example 2.9%
    anniversary date, you have the right to deduct it        based on the 2003 guideline) from the 6% interest
    directly from your next rent cheque. In 1999 a           they owe you.
    landlord was convicted of failing to pay the interest
    on the last month's deposit and was fined $2,000.        It is a good idea to check with other tenants in the
    Make sure and put your request for the last month's      building, or with your Tenants' Association, to see
    rent deposit interest in writing before you deduct it    if the landlord is paying the interest on the rent
    from your rent. In your letter to the landlord please    deposit. If not, your association should let every
    make reference to Section 118 part (6) & (7) so they     tenant in the building know of their right to the
    know what part of the Tenant Protection Act allows       interest on their rent deposit.
    you to make an automatic deduction.

                  If you have any questions about your legal rights as a tenant, call the
                  Tenant Hotline at 416-921-9494 Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 6:00 pm or
                  email us at

                                              FMTA Hotline Is Where the Action Is!
                                                 By Gail Nyberg

                                                  January at the FMTA means that the Annual Report on Hotline
                                             Services is due at City Hall.
                                                  The Hotline Counsellors were able to help over 11,000 callers
                                             last year. This is a 35 percent increase over the previous year.
                                             Callers were provided with information on a myriad of issues such
                                             as Evictions, Rent Increases, Repairs, Illegal Charges, Harassment,
                                             Government Policy and Privacy Issues.
                                                  Some callers have needs that require further assistance, and
                                             the Counsellors were able to refer the callers to legal aid clinics,
                                             housing help agencies, city councillors and the property standards
                                             department to name a few.
                                                  The Hotline continues to be a lifeline for tenants in Toronto.
                                             Tenants are assisted in getting quick answers to questions and help
                                             to solve problems in an accurate, informative, sensitive and patient
                                             manner. The Tenant Hotline is proud to have helped thousands of
                                             tenants get information about their rights! If you need help do not
                                             hesitate to call the Hotline at (416) 921-9494.
Together We Are Strong                                                                                 Page 3

                                         Help us Help You
     With two elections — one                The landlord lobby is rich. But     For example, if you were looking
 absolutely critical to tenants —       if tenants get out to vote, we can       at a 7% increase, but with
 coming up, the Federation of           force politicians to listen to us,       FMTA help, you fought to get it
 Metro Tenants’ Associations            repeal the “Tenant Protection Act”       reduced to 4%, consider
 intends to make sure that the          and enact real rent control.             donating 3% of one month’s rent
 tenant voice is heard loud and              Help us help you.                   to this cause.
 clear.                                      With skyrocketing rents, we             The time to act is now. Send
     Our hard-working volunteers        know that many tenants are               in your donation (see the back
 are making plans now, but one          strapped for cash. But whatever          page). Organize your
 thing we know: we need money           you can spare will help make a           neighbours to register to vote.
 for meeting rooms, printing,           difference.                              Attend candidates’ meetings
 mailing, advertising and so on.             The Federation has helped           and find out where they stand
     The Federation is a non-           thousands of tenants reduce              on tenant issues. At the very
 profit organization, not a charity.    Above Guideline Increases. If you        least, vote.
 We can’t offer you a tax receipt.      are one of them, consider                    Together we are strong. And
 But we are fighting for your           donating the equivalent of what          together — with some money to
 rights.                                you saved on one month’s rent.           spend — we can win.

       As If Tenants Don’t have Enough to Worry About
   By Gail Nyberg

    One would think that the               The suspect then                        The majority of the
inequities of the Tenant               advertised the apartment                victims were young women.
Protection Act were enough             through university and                      Tenants must protect
for tenants to deal with, but          college referral boards. He             themselves. When looking
now they also have to deal             would then show the                     for an apartment, try to
with a scam artist posing as           apartment to unsuspecting               meet the potential landlord
a landlord.                            potential tenants. The                  at the management office to
    The Toronto Police                 apartments were advertised              ensure that the person has
Service recently arrested an           at very attractive rents and            the right to lease the
individual who they claim              the victims paid in cash.               premises. Do not pay first
was operating with at least                You guessed it—The                  and last month’s rent in
13 aliases. He reportedly              suspect then disappeared                cash. Ask for identification.
obtained keys to apartments            with the money and the                      Women should try to
that were for rent by                  tenants were left without an            avoid meetings with male
breaking into lock boxes,              apartment. The police                   landlords on their own. If
duplicating the keys, and              reported that there have been           you think you have been
returning the keys to the              over 54 victims to date and             victimized please contact
box undetected.                        that number continues to rise.          Police at (416) 808-5234 or
                                                                               (416) 808-5252
The Back Page                                                                                                        The Tenant

                                  When Sharing Becomes a Risky Business
    Federation of Metro               By Howard Tessler
   Tenant’s Associations
                                       As every tenant knows,      to share them with another                  In these tough times
                                  in the last few years, rents     person who is looking for a            for tenants, thousands of
      27 Carlton St.,             have being going up while        decent place at a decent               persons are at risk of
        Suite 500                 availability is going down.      price.                                 becoming homeless. The
                                  Meanwhile, our wages                  Under previous                    tenant on the lease can
     Toronto, Ontario
                                  have pretty much remained        legislation, this meant that           throw them out without any
        M5B 1L2                                                    a tenant sharing their                 legal process. They are
                                  the same, if not gone
                                  down. For many of us,            apartment would become a               paying guests. And if they
    TENANT HOTLINE:               shared accommodation             “head” tenant, and the                 become unwanted or
      (416) 921-9494              has become an                    person sharing would                   unwelcome, they can be
                                  increasingly attractive          become a “sub” tenant.                 de-housed.
      FMTA OFFICE:                option.                               The provincial                         For the Tenant Hotline
      (416) 646-1772                   Traditionally, of course,   government has decided                 this lead to difficult calls
                                  “sharing a place” has been       that “head” and “sub”                  from both tenants on the
     OUTREACH AND                 a temporary housing              tenants created too much               lease and those not
                                  strategy common among            “red tape” and on July 16,             protected. It’s difficult for
                                  young people and people          2001 eliminated these                  even the best of friends to
      (416) 413-9442                                               categories.                            share a place, let alone
                                  new to the city.
                                       The Tenant Protection            What this means is that           total strangers. But for two
           FAX:                   Act changed that, with           only the person on the                 people sharing because
      (416) 921-4177              huge increases on vacant         lease is legally a tenant              they both don’t really have
                                  apartments, and Above the        and thereby protected by               any housing options, it can
                                  Guideline Rent Increases         the Tenant Protection Act.             be extremely nerve-
                                  for capital expenditures         Even though a roommate                 wracking. And it can lead to
     We’re on the Web!            and increased utility costs.     may be paying half the rent            homelessness.              Tenants have therefore      and other costs of the unit,                It’s just one more
                                  experienced higher and           they do not have the same              example of our provincial
                                  higher increases in rents. A     legal status as the person             government supposedly
        E-MAIL:                   method of making our             whose name appears on                  “working for us”.          homes affordable again is        the lease.

Yes, I want to be part of the Tenants’ Movement!
Please send me my membership card and information about the services that I receive as a member.

              I will pay my membership dues by:                           I am joining as the following
                                                                          type of member:

     Cheque or money order                   Cash                              New Member             Renewal
     (made out to FMTA)
                                                                               Individual: $15/year
 Please Print:
 Name: _____________________________________                                   Senior, student or unemployed: $5/year
 Address: _____________________ Apt. #: _______
                                                                               Sustaining Member: $50/year
 City: __________________ Postal Code: _______________
 Telephone #: (h)_______________(w)__________________                          Homeowner (non-voting): $25/year
 Fax: ________________ e-mail: ______________________
                                                                               Organization (non-voting): $25/year

    YES! I would like to donate $_______ to the FMTA!                         Tenants’ Association: ____ units,
                                                                          $10 per year per unit (minimum 3 units)
              Send to: Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, 27 Carlton St., Suite 500, Toronto, ON, M5B 1L2

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