How do I join Keep Your Rent Hamilton?

Many people simply won’t be able to pay their rent on April 1. Others may have enough to make rent this month, but probably not next month. Others are more financially secure, but recognize that their neighbours are in a difficult position and want to act in solidarity with them. The more of us who withhold rent, the more difficult it will be for landlords to evict any one of us for non-payment.The sooner we all stop paying rent the better – however if you can’t start in April, we look forward to you joining us May 1st.

Sign the Keep Your Rent pledge and get connected

If you want to show your commitment to the wider KeepYourRent movement, please sign the pledge. We hope that hundreds of thousands of tenants across Ontario (and Canada) participate, forcing the government and landlords to cancel rent, eliminate rent debt, and void eviction applications. Through mass participation in KeepYourRent, we can do more to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the most vulnerable. Through mass participation, we can support those who otherwise would be at the greatest risk of losing their homes if forced to choose between food, medicine, and rent.

When you sign the pledge, you will have the option to have your name and contact info shared with other pledged tenants in your building or nearby. Once connected, you can work together to get more neighbours involved.

Cancel direct deposit (if applicable)

If your bank automatically deposits rent money to your landlord every month, you can contact the bank and have them either put payments on hold or cancel your landlord as a payee. Tenants on social assistance can contact their Ontario Works or ODSP caseworker to cancel their rent pay-direct. Tenants whose rent is paid directly to the landlord can still keep their rent. If your caseworker denies your request, contact us for support. Tenants can pressure the local Ontario Works or ODSP office to stop denying tenants’ requests to cancel their rent pay-directs.

Get organized with your neighbours so you can have each other’s backs
The most important thing you can do is get more of your neighbours (in your building, on your block, in your neighbourhood) involved in the Keep Your Rent campaign. This can mean getting your neighbours’ contact info and setting up a Whatsapp group or phone tree, putting up posters in your neighbourhood, hanging a banner from your balcony, etc. Get organizing tips and download resources here.

Don’t sign anything! Don’t fall for your landlord’s tricks!

On March 26 the Hamilton landlord association sent a message to all of its members, sharing ‘COVID-19 landlord survival tips’ and giving advice on how to protect the ‘financial health of your operation.’ While we are worried about contracting a virus that could kill us and our loved ones, our landlords are focused on making money. High-priced landlord lawyer Joe Hoffer (of Cohen Highley LLP) advised Hamilton landlords against issuing the usual N4 (Notices of Termination) for rental arrears. He realizes these notices are pointless, given that evictions are suspended province-wide and the Landlord and Tenant Board is closed. Landlords are in a very weak position and they know it.

Instead, Hoffer encourages landlords to send ‘friendly reminders’ to tenants about unpaid rent and invite tenants to sign ‘rental arrears repayment agreements’ as soon as possible. You can see the template agreement he provided here.

Landlords will refer you to the various income support programs the federal government is rolling out (most of them totally insufficient) and then want you to sign a paper committing to a rent payment schedule. Do not sign anything. This agreement could be used against you later at the Landlord and Tenant Board, once it reopens.

Again, do not sign anything or agree to anything in writing (letter, email, text). You do not need to respond to your landlord. Or if you like, you can send a polite email through your tenant committee, asserting that tenants in your building wish to be dealt with collectively and will not be singled out individually. Repeat that you have made the decision to keep your rent as a group and will continue to do so until the COVID-19 crisis is over.