Toronto

This Kensington Market tenant gets to stay in his unit after fighting his landlord for almost 2 years

Tenants in a Kensington Market apartment have won their fight to continue living in their unit after battling their landlord for more than a year and a half.

Landlord tried to raise rent by 49% then served papers saying his son was moving in

Anders Yates and his four house mates won their case at the Landlord and Tenant Board. (Mike Cole/CBC)

Tenants in a Kensington Market apartment have won their fight to continue living in their unit after battling their landlord for more than a year and a half. 

"It was tense, never quite knowing if we would have to suddenly pack up and leave and suddenly find a new way to carve out our lives in this city," said Anders Yates, who makes his living as an actor. "Being able to breathe, to relax, has made us feel more at home."

In August 2016, Yates and four of his housemates, made headlines when they were almost priced out of their home and CBC Toronto has been following their story ever since. 

Their developer landlord, Claude Bitton, owner of CB Holdings, attempted to raise the rent from $2,350 to $3,500, about a 49 per cent increase. 

They won their case at a hearing of the Landlord and Tenant Board and continued to live in the second storey unit. 

But in February 2017, Bitton served them papers saying his son wanted to move in, but Yates says he did not believe Bitton, and took the issue to the board again

"There were lots of inconsistencies," said Evan Woodley, a law student with Downtown Legal Services who helped the tenants argue their case. "The son didn't know how many bedrooms were in the unit. He had just bought a car the week before but didn't know if there was parking that came with the unit." 

That's what the Landlord and Tenant Board found in its final decision, stating it dismissed the application because it did not think Bitton's son had "concrete plans for living in the rental unit" and did not think the landlord's witnesses were credible because "their testimonies were fraught with evasiveness and contradictions." 

When CBC Toronto called Bitton for a response, he refused an interview but stated he wasn't happy with the board's decision.

"It's not fair," he said. "It's depriving landlords of their rights." 

But Yates says he and his housemates are all artists or students, and can't afford moving out and paying higher rent in the city. "Holding on to this place is really really important," he said.

"It's a matter of continuing with our careers." 

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