The North Star


“At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand”

CAPREIT extracts as much money as possible from their tenants

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Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (CAPREIT) is the largest owner of rental housing in Canada. In Montreal, CAPREIT owns 4387 rental units. Since 2015, it has been involved in 3528 cases at the housing tribunal (not including ongoing cases).

After the delivery of a petition of demands by tenants to CAPREIT's office in Montreal, which was regarding the failure of the maintenance reporting system in their building, a tenant named Yutian spoke to North Star about a conversation he had with a manager in the office: "I think she didn't feel threatened at the time, so she informed me that most of the tenants' maintenance is done by contract. [...] They try to outsource their problem to save money."

In 2013, CAPREIT turned off the heat and hot water in two 14-story towers in Saint-Laurent for several weeks in the middle of November. This was despite the fact that they were aware of problems with the heating system since March. Tenants asked for compensation, to which CAPREIT responded by giving them 25 dollars to buy a hot meal. Some tenants decided to leave the building because of CAPREIT's bad faith response.

CAPREIT is a real estate investment trust (REIT). The main objective of REITs is to maximize the return on investment for their shareholders. Each month, when tenants pay rent, the total is added up and distributed to shareholders and managers. Main shareholders of CAPREIT include banks like RBC, BMO, TD, CIBC. CAPREIT itself also holds shares in other residential and commercial REITs in Europe.

One way for REITs to maximise profits is through rent increases. Sheila, a CAPREIT tenant in Montreal testifies: "I've been here four years, and I just found out I was paying way, way too many increases. I've been paying 9% increases [per year]. So when someone said they were paying 1.5 or 2 percent increases, my jaw dropped."

CAPREITs are allowed tax exemptions by the federal government for the income they transfer to their investors in benefits and dividends. In 2021, CAPREIT saved $74.94 million in taxes through this loophole, which directly contributed to them making record profits of almost $1 billion in 2022 - a 6.6% increase over 2021.

Ramona, a Montreal tenant, says, "We need to draw a line with them and say, 'If you're not going to provide good service and charge a reasonable rate, we're going to have to collectively unite and force you to do it, because it's not for lack of money, obviously. "

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