I was one of six tenants picketing outside my apartment building in Fredericton’s north side on Tuesday, February 22.
We are tenants at 91 Main Street. The old landlord sold our building at the beginning of December to a new landlord who immediately served some of us with rent increase notices and others with tenancy termination notices.
At the end of December, we were sent a notice saying our rent will be raised by $250/month in April 2022. At the end of January, we received another notice telling us to reject the first letter and that they will raise the rent by another $100/month by August 1, 2022 for a total increase of $350/month.
On February 10, three families in our building, including two newcomer families, were given a tenancy termination notice to vacate the building by March 31. I am a member of one of those three families who have found a place to move to after a lot of stress and sleepless nights.
A week later, on February 16, the new landlord served all of the other tenants with termination notices. These tenants have three months to vacate because they have lived in the building for five years or longer. We have several seniors in the building, who are now having to look for places to live.
We know the law is on the landlord’s side. One landlord had the audacity to say that we, the tenants, don’t understand because of the taxes they are paying when they are throwing everyone onto the street!
The landlords think we are paying a low rent so that means we must be low-lifes. They are treating us without any respect and dignity. They have implied that they will move a “higher clientele” into the building once it has been renovated. Imagine how insulting that is to all of us. With the exception of the pensioners on fixed incomes, the vast majority of us in the building work hard for a living.
There is a huge issue with homelessness going on in this province. People are afraid that if they can’t find anywhere to live, their children will be put into foster care. The people in this province deserve way better. We deserve people to stand up for us and fight for the law to be changed so that it is in our favour and not the rich landlords.
We have been in touch with ACORN, an anti-poverty group that advocates on behalf of tenants. They helped us organize the picket on February 22 to draw attention to our situation. The landlord’s callous, out of touch response to our street action as quoted by the Telegraph-Journal on February 22: “If you’re not happy with where you live, move or buy a house.”
We need to stop huge rent hikes. We need to stop landlords throwing people out onto the street because they want a “higher clientele.” We need the law to favour tenants, not the landlords. Tenants should not be left to live in fear of being evicted and becoming homeless because of rent hikes they can’t afford.
Nichola Taylor is a tenant and new member of the New Brunswick chapter of ACORN NB, an anti-poverty group. She encourages people to sign ACORN’s petition demanding that the New Brunswick government institute rent control and eviction protections for tenants.