Why this Kensington market tenant is having to fight to stay in his apartment... again
Landlord told Anders Yates that his son is moving in, but the tenant doesn't buy it
The Kensington Market tenants who successfully fought an almost 50 per cent rent increase last year are going before the Landlord and Tenant Board yet again.
A year ago, Anders Yates and his four roommates made headlines when they were almost priced out of their home after landlord Claude Bitton, owner of CB Holdings, tried to boost the rent to $3,500 from $2,350.
Yates and his roommates won their hearing and continued to live at the apartment.
But in February, Bitton served them papers again, saying his son wanted to move in.
"We don't think he wants to move any of his kids into the apartment," Yates told CBC Toronto. "It seems like he's trying any means possible to push us out of the apartment."
Yates cites the rent increase attempt as just one of the reasons he's skeptical about Bitton's son moving in.
"After he had given us notice he wished to move his son in, he then proceeded to put this building on the real estate market and sell it, which doesn't seem to make sense," Yates said. That listing has since been taken down.
"That's called a bad faith eviction," said Ben Ries, a tenant advocate and Yates's lawyer. "There's a strong economic incentive for landlords [to try and evict] if rents in the community are going up faster than inflation."
Real estate lawyer Selina Huang agrees that it's becoming more common for landlords to try and evict a tenant in the last few years amidst the soaring housing market.
"The real estate market is crazy," Huang said. "[Owners could do this] to get the tenants out and sell the property."
Bitton is also the owner of a property around the corner from Yates's apartment. After increasing rent there, many of the tenants in that property moved out and the place has since been advertised on Airbnb.
CBC Toronto asked Bitton for an interview, but he would only say that his son is moving into Yates's apartment because he's in his 30s and still living at home.
Meanwhile, Yates says he's hoping the hearing with the Landlord and Tenant Board on July 6 will again be in his favour.
"I don't want to leave," he said. "Myself and my roommates are all artists and students on low income [and] we just won't be able to afford to live in another place in a community like this. I've been here for many years now and the neighbourhood is like family."
The conflict has been stressful for Yates and his roommates, but "it's worth it," he said.
"I'm not just fighting for myself. I feel like I'm fighting on behalf of other people who are unjustly being pushed out of their homes."