The Katarokwi Unions of Tenants had an organizational meeting on July 2 to talk about a number of important items. Perhaps most importantly, the people who gathered last night expressed different opinions on how to make the most of our time when we meet with the Mayor’s Task Force the week of July 22nd. It was decided that we would put out an open call to our members and all tenants in Kingston to come to this meeting to voice their opinions about the state of rental housing. It was also determined that KUT would have a number of representatives there to speak on behalf of the tenants union, specifically. We are in the process of formulating some ideas about how to improve rental housing stock in the city, so if you have any ideas or thoughts you’d like for us to pass on, please forward them to us.
Additionally, I passed along the news that the film ‘Push’ will be playing at the Screening Room beginning on August 9. ‘Push’ is about global gentrification and the processes of global finance capital that are causing unaffordable housing around the world, featuring Leilani Farha—the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. I’ve been in discussion with Leilani for a number of weeks and she says she is going to try to make it to Kingston for one of the nights. She and I agreed that hosting a panel discussion about financialization and discussing affordability in Kingston would be a great idea. At the meeting we held, KUT members thought about a few people who would make for good panelists; I will update everyone about who might be there and when this will be when I know more!
KUT members also discussed “big-picture” stuff; We agreed that our movement had to engage the masses and become a much larger organization. I think its important for us to constantly think about how to most effectively organize our presence in the community. If we are to have much success, I think that it is imperative that we think about how we will gain the support of the thousands of people renting in the city. In order to become a force, we must do a number of important things: first, we must help people who are facing struggles from predatory landlords and soaring rent costs; second, we need for more people to become aware of us as an organization and encourage them to support us in any way they can; third, we need to engage with our institutions in productive and creative ways, constantly challenging them to improve—and, at the same time, we must start to organize our own institutions and expose the system we live under for the monster that it is.
KUT is currently in the process of assisting at least two different tenants in their struggles against landlords. In one case, we are assisting a tenant whose landlord is trying to extract as much money from her as much as they can before she moves out. This tenant has tried to ensure the landlord maintains the property, and has complained about water leakages, mold, bugs, and other issues to no avail. KUT has offered its support to this tenant and found the correct LTB forms to fill out. KUT members also encouraged her to get additional legal help. Tenants should all be aware that they can apply to the LTB for an order to end their tenancy agreement early if the landlord has not met their obligations under the RTA.
NOTE: You can apply to end the tenancy agreement early if your landlord does any of the following (Source: Social Justice Tribunals Ontario):
- is not maintaining the rental property
- unlawfully enters the rental unit alters the locking system without giving you replacement keys
- withholds or deliberately interferes with a vital service
- interferes with your reasonable enjoyment of the rental property
- harasses you
- unreasonably withholds consent to assign or sublet the rental unit”
This was the second official meeting of the Katarokwi Union of Tenants. We discussed issues facing tenants in the city, actively searching and going back and forth for solutions to the problems we are facing. Some of the topics we discussed tonight were a little sensitive in nature, so I won’t go into the specifics of everything we talked about; After reading this, if you want to know more, please contact me via email to join our email list. I can give a fuller debriefing there if need be. Our next meeting is at Grad Club on July 22nd at 4:30 p.m.