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Singh proposes moratorium on 'corporate landlords' buying up rentals

Tenants at the Webster Street apartments in northeast London, Ont. got some high profile help Friday in their fight to stay in their homes.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made a stop at the apartment complex to announce his proposal to prevent what he said are greedy corporate landlords from profiteering.

“They’re forcing all these people to live in panic and fear of what’s going to happen to them,” he said.

Singh is calling for a moratorium on the sale of rental homes to large for-profit landlords, or what he calls “corporate landlords.” He also wants an acquisition fund established that would allow municipalities and non-profits to buy up affordable rental units when they come on the market.

“This is something we believe, it has to happen right away,” said Singh to a crowd of renters and renters’ advocates, along with assembled media, and those taking in the news conference virtually.

“So we’re going to be using all the tools that we have to push this forward in parliament, to push the government to move forward on this. We’ve used our powers in the past to deliver things like dental care,” he added. “We want to use our power now to focus on housing.”

A small group of people gathered to advocate for affordable housing in London on May 26, 2023. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)Singh’s stop at the Webster Street location was no accident.

Webster Apartments has been thrust into the national spotlight recently over what tenants claim are “renoviction” notices. Several tenants have said they’re being evicted because the property owner wants to renovate their unit.

Tenant Julie Gallagher told CTV News London every tenant is nervous they’ll be the next one to get the notice.

“Oh yeah, it’s going to come down the pipeline, we’re positive of that,” she said. “They’re using the excuse ‘reno.’ A lot of these units don’t have to be reno’d. Mine is completely done.”

Tenant Deborah Barrett said she and her mother have been given notices to be out of their apartments by the end of this month. She said Singh’s plan is too little, too late for her and her mother, who is 83.

“This isn’t something that can’t sit in the House of Commons for five years, we’re being evicted by the end of the month,” said Barrett. 

“It’s ridiculous, it’s not fair,” she added through tears.

According to the NDP, 89 per cent of rental homes in London are owned by corporate landlords. 

Singh will also be making a stop at a private event at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Oxford County on Friday afternoon. 

— With files from CTV News London's Kristylee Varley Top Stories

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