KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Public housing tenants are tired of living in units not fit for human habitation. They complain, the government tells them they’re on it, but nothing much ever happens.
Jodi Brown is a public housing tenant who lives in the Greystone Drive area in Spryfield. She’s been complaining about smells, rodents and only half-completed repairs in her apartment ever since she moved in.
She’s not the only one. Many public housing tenants share her complaints. Tired of waiting, Brown is now calling for a collective rent strike.
The Residential Tenancies Act requires landlords to keep the premises “in a good state of repair and fit for habitation.” That applies just as much to government as it does to private landlords, Brown says.
If your landlord doesn’t meet that requirement then tenants can file a complaint with Residential Tenancies. You’ll get a hearing that, if successful, will result in an order for your landlord to do the necessary repairs.
To give your complaint a bit of extra zip you can also ask to pay the the rent to the Residential Tenancies in trust, instead of to the Landlord. That’s what would make it a rent strike, Brown explains.
So it’s not as if you don’t pay rent. You pay the rent in trust, and the landlord will get that money once they meet their obligations. Or if the Residential Tenancies doesn’t think your complaint was warranted, of course, Brown says.
“But stick to the rules and do the paperwork. You can’t just stop paying your rents or you will quickly get in real trouble,” Brown adds.
Brown only raised the idea a short while ago, but is already receiving a lot of support from elsewhere in the city and the province.
“I hear from people in Mulgrave Park who tell me they’re sick of living with mould for years on end,” Brown says.
“We’re in public housing, this is our last option, Brown says. “People may say, well find another place, but for us there is nowhere else to go. It is this or the street and the shelters.”
It has to be coordinated and people have to stick together, she emphasizes. Tenants with private landlords may consider joining in, Brown suggests.
“At the end of the day you can’t be evicted for standing up for your basic rights. There is nothing wrong with doing this. And there are too many eyes on us, they can’t kick us out,” Brown says.
Join the Greystone Maintenance facebook page for more information and updates.
Check out the Tenants’ Rights Guide,an excellent guide to rental housing in Nova Scotia.