The North Star


Eviction Defence in Ontario

Neighbourhood Successfully Defends Single Mother Against Unjust Eviction

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In late December 2023, a single mother living in an East Scarborough apartment building for the past 15 years was threatened with eviction after management refused to accept payment for no apparent reason. Neighbours associated with the East Scarborough Tenants Union (ESTU) quickly gathered outside the management office to ensure that the family would not be evicted.

While the family had kept up with its rent, the new management, Q Residential, claimed that the family of four children owed $3000 for a parking spot, that the mother believed she had cancelled with the old management, CAPREIT. Without attempting to settle the dispute with the family, the management filed a request for eviction.

On December 20, the sheriff let the tenant know she had to pay within the next 72 hours, and she managed to quickly raise the required amount. However, management refused to accept payment and locked them out of their apartment, which contained all their belongings and a sick cat in need of care and medication. The family tried to involve animal control, but the management would not pick up their calls. 

Members of the East Scarborough Tenant Union and Cougar Court neighbours recounted to North Star that they quickly arrived at the management office to support the family. Management responded by becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive, even slapping a supporter, who then called the police.

Two officers then arrived on the scene, but were skeptical and questioned the tenants. After conferring with management behind closed doors, the officers supported management's position that the eviction was complete and demanded that all tenants leave, claiming trespassing.

Faced with the building's tenants' refusal to leave the family, the officers began to intimidate them. One of the tenants, an elderly man with dark skin, was spotted and singled out in the crowd by the officers, who aggressively grabbed him. In response to the tenants' insistence, the agents eventually left. Under pressure, management called a superior, who finally agreed to let the family pay and go home.

Tenants occupying the lobby of 225 Cougar Court in Scarborough outside the management office of Q Residential, demanding that office staff accept the payment by the tenant, as had been promised to them

Describing the situation and referring to the neighbourhood's successful defence against eviction, a tenants' union member who spoke with North Star pointed out that “this is proof that, when we come together, we get things done. I’m amazed at how fast we got people together, and that’s one of the things that makes you keep going, that we have to keep fighting for the tenant's rights.” 

This is not the first eviction defence that has taken place in Cougar Court. Since the pandemic, there have been multiple above guideline rent increases (AGIs), spurious eviction filings, maltreatment by building managers, amidst dire living conditions. Common problems in the building are no heating in the winter, black mold, pests, frequent water shut-offs without warning, up to six times in the span of a month and a half​​​​​​​, and more. Through ESTU, tenants have been coming together to struggle against this, with a campaign to get the heating turned back on, eviction defence, and striking to stop AGIs.

Spurious evictions like this one are all too common in Canada's hyperinflationary rental market. Landlords have a vested interest in evicting long-term tenants, as they can then replace them with new tenants who will pay the current market price (often several hundred dollars more), as well as an additional water bill.

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