About Us

ACORN is a versatile mass-based union of low-to-moderate income tenants that builds the large-scale collective power needed to win. On the neighbouhrood or building level, ACORN does direct action and strategic campaigning against landlords to stop evictions, win repairs, and get the respect tenants deserve.

At the city-wide, provincial, and federal levels, ACORN consolidates the power built in the neighbourhoods and buildings so that we can win legislative campaigns to expand the tenant rights and social programs that our communities are demanding and need.

Housing is a place to live, not a commodity or investment product. Tenants are struggling to find affordable, secure, safe and healthy homes. That is why ACORN is fighting for tenant protections and community controlled housing. This is not an easy fight to win, and ACORN fundamentally believes that it will never be won by any one local group no matter how strong they are. To win, tenants need to be united across communities, across cities, across provinces, and across the world. Tenants want to come together, get organized on a large scale, and demand systemic change. ACORN organizes to make this happen. We are stronger together as tenants!

This platform is for tenants who want to fight back against the corporate greed that is ruining housing in Canada. It offers first step tools and resources to act collectively. Join ACORN to connect with tenants across your community, city, province, and country who are already fighting back. Building large scale community power in your building, and across your city, province and country is the best way to organise for change. This platform helps you do that.

Current Victories

  • Millions of dollars won nationally in repairs!

    Since our inception in 2004, ACORN members have won millions of dollars in cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halifax, Calgary, New Westminster, Surrey, Burnaby and Mississauga in repairs!!  ACORN has been extremely successful in getting hundreds of thousands of tenants in buildings who are struggling with roaches, bedbugs, mould, plumbing issues etc. to do actions. These actions have not only exposed the landlord’s negligence in maintaining their buildings but have helped tenants win millions of dollars in repairs. While some tenants have waited for years to get changes in their buildings, direct actions by tenants have resulted in quick and concrete changes. Collective action works!

  • BC ACORN secures a historic win to stop Additional Rent Increase in New Westminster

    Tenants at Skyline Towers in New Westminster were happy to see their broken elevators finally being replaced, only to find out that their landlord Bayside Properties intended to have tenants pay for the entire $1,000,000 bill with a rent increase. Under the BC Provincial Housing legislation, landlords can now apply to the BC Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) for an Additional Rent Increase (ARI) to pay for major repairs needed in the building. With her neighbours, ACORN Canada leader organized an ACORN Tenant Union in the building and started to fight the ARI. The Tenant Union worked tirelessly to prove to the RTB that due to decades of neglect, Bayside Properties should bear the costs to repair the elevator. The RTB ruled that the  landlord pays all the costs for the elevator repairs making Skyline Tower ACORN Tenant Union the first tenants to defeat an ARI dispute at arbitration in BC.

  • Ottawa ACORN stops Manor Village displacement and wins against renoviction

    ACORN has been fighting against the mass displacement of Manor Village tenants since September 2020. Many tenants have been in their homes for over 30 years. However, this community has been under threat. The City wanted to push Stage 3 LRT straight through the community. The City Council voted in favour of demolishing 300+ tenants’ homes to put the LRT through Manor Village. Members persisted and continued planning actions, forcing the city to reverse their decision!

    Soon after, Smart Living Properties, a property management company  along with Forum Equities decided to buy Manor Village. It issued N13 eviction notices to tenants for unnecessary renovations with the intention to convert these affordable homes into high-end student housing, tripling the rent in the process. They refused to meet with tenants as a group, neglected maintenance, verbally refused the right to return and offered aggressive buyout offers. Although some took the buyouts, many stood firm. This all came to a head when weeks before Manor Village tenants and Smart Living’s scheduled hearing at the Landlord Tenant Board, Smart Living rescinded their eviction notices to let tenants stay in their homes! This win was only made possible because of persistent community organizing and direct action.

  • Ottawa ACORN wins replacement units for 5 years

    In August 2022, Ottawa City Council voted 13-11 in favour of demovicting 142 Nepean tenants for a 30 space parking lot! This happened primarily due to the information provided by the property developers Glenview Homes and Taggart Realty Management on what is affordable housing. Councillors traded in the 6 affordable housing units at 142 Nepean St, the few affordable units in Centretown for 25 “affordable” units being built at 108 Nepean St by Glenview and Taggart. However, those “affordable” rents are defined as below average market rent which is already over $2000+ for a two bedroom in Centretown AND wouldn’t be subject to rent control. While this doesn’t help the affordable housing crisis and the tenants, due to the pressure by Ottawa ACORN, tenants were offered $15,000 and replacement units at the same rent for 5 years. This was only possible as a result of efforts our members made over the last 8 months fighting back against powerful property developers, including rallies, petitioning, phone blitzes, and deputations with the city.

  • Hamilton ACORN forces the city to stop funding a developer that displaces tenants

    Malleum, a developer in Hamilton, is known for displacing tenants. Several ACORN members lost their homes due to the developer’s predatory tactics to evict tenants. Hamilton ACORN took up the fight and because of ACORN’s campaign, Hamilton councillors  rejected $152,000 worth of grants to Malleum. In a  5-4 vote, councillors rejected five other applications Malleum submitted after former tenants urged them not to approve the public handout to help the firm cover its renovations. Elizabeth Ellis, Hamilton ACORN member, spoke to the city about how she felt “bullied” into taking a buyout to leave her apartment at Barton Street East and Sherman Avenue North.

  • Hamilton ACORN wins a strong anti-renoviction bylaw

    On January 17th 2024 Hamilton Council voted unanimously in favour of an anti-renoviction bylaw. This was the result of a 5-year long ACORN campaign that started in 2018 when the first Hamilton ACORN member facing renoviction joined the campaign followed by relentless pressure through a series of press conferences, deputations, city hall meetings, rallies and townhalls. The subsequent years saw several motions passed to direct the creation of a made in Hamilton bylaw (based on the success of policy from New Westminister. BC) and finally the passage of the Renovations License and Relocation Bylaw by the city of Hamilton. By doing so, the bylaw sets a strong precedent for other cities in the province to step in and ensure tenants’ rights are protected.

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  • Stopping Displacement

    ACORN has been leading the way fighting for protections to end tenant displacement and protect affordable housing. Taking action against landlords directly to keep tenants in their homes is often the most direct way to stop displacement. Given the scale of displacement across our cities, fighting for systemic solutions and laws to protect tenants before they are at risk is always something ACORN members and leaders do. BC ACORN and allies won one of the strongest anti-renoviction bylaws in several BC cities. In Cities like Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, we have focused on municipal governments to investigate renoviction  frameworks and by laws.  Both Hamilton and Toronto are in the process of creating an anti-renoviction bylaws. Further, Ottawa and Hamilton have started looking at best practices of rental replacement and stopping demovictions.  The fight continues!

  • BC ACORN’s stop demovictions campaign wins a strong tenant assistance policy in Burnaby

    In 2019, Burnaby ACORN’s hard work on the Stop Demovictions campaign resulted in Burnaby’s Tenant Assistance Policy, which is now the best municipal housing policy in Canada. If developers want to demolish our members’ homes to make way for development, they must provide tenants with a unit at the same rent in the new building, as well as pay a rental top-up to cover any added rent the tenant will pay during the construction of the new development.

  • Toronto ACORN fights for and wins Toronto RentSafe to ensure healthy homes

    Since a group of tenants got together to fight at 1775 and 1765 Weston road in 2004 in York South Weston, our membership has been pushing property owners, management companies and the City of Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards to ensure that all Toronto tenant families have basic health and safety standards upheld in their rented homes. In 2008, while the City of Toronto introduced the Multi Residential Apartment Buildings (MRAB) Audit program, it was a start but ACORN members needed more, they wanted a proactive system to target the bad landlords!  

    From 2014 – 2016, ACORN members did close to 100 local direct actions across the city and collected 2,700 property standards violations from tenants. In November 2014, we delivered our message to the then Mayor John Tory and to the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division, which helped reinitiate the conversation on ensuring that the city takes steps to create healthy and livable housing to protect affordable housing across the city. Further actions, meetings with councillors and releasing a yearly “State of Repair” survey designed to understand the state of repair in the apartment buildings, and experiences of tenants, led to the RentSafe bylaw in 2016 and passed by the City in March 2017.  We are now fighting for improvements in the by law!

  • Peel ACORN wins RentSafe in Mississauga, continues to make it better!

    The city of Mississauga started implementing the Mississauga Apartment Rental Compliance or MARC program in July of 2022. Aimed at ensuring apartment buildings are well-maintained to “support safe, secure and liveable communities”, the city is implementing it as a 5-year pilot program. It came about because too many tenants are living with mold, pest, untreated repairs etc. in the city. It took numerous actions, outreach days and meetings with city councillors by Peel ACORN to secure Rent Safe, now called the MARC program. The program made a significant step forward towards tenants’ right to access to healthy and safe homes through proactive inspections. It will impact 337 buildings with 2 stories or more and 6 units or more (totalling 30,322 units). ACORN members continue to fight to make it work better for tenants!

  • Halifax ACORN wins landlord registration, proactive inspections

    After several years of direct actions and campaigning for livable housing standards, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) tenants finally have better protections. In early 2023, HRM voted 13 for and 1 against to pass Bylaw R-400 Respecting Registration of Residential Rental Properties. With this new regulatory system, the bylaw department can now proactively inspect and enforce the HRM’s M-200 Respecting Standards for Residential Occupancies bylaw to get repairs done! Next step is to ensure that the HRM establishes the strongest possible framework for proactive building inspections. We know that continuous organising is key to securing healthy homes.

  • Toronto ACORN wins a Permanent Municipal Rent Grant, prevents evictions

    As the pandemic caused thousands of renters to fall behind on rent and evictions hit an all time high, Toronto ACORN pressured the city and members won a rent grant by the city of Toronto. In May 2021, the city introduced a pilot rent bank program and suspended any loan repayment requirements for existing Rent Bank clients during the period of the pilot program, which ran until March 31, 2022. ACORN members continued to pressure the city to make the rent grant permanent and in 2022, these changes to the rent bank were made permanent. Additionally, the city made provisions for forgiveness of loans issued prior to the pandemic, in case the repayment results in undue financial hardship. The program represents an additional funding of $5 million for Toronto Rent Bank, which was approved in the City’s 2022 budget.

    Through the pilot program, a total of 1,744 households were able to avoid eviction by receiving a grant during the pilot period. This was an increase of 52% over 2020 – or an additional 594 households.

  • Nova Scotia ACORN secures a temporary rent cap

    Nova Scotia is one of the provinces with very few tenant protections. NS ACORN, after persistent campaigning and organizing, secured a huge victory in 2020 when the province announced a temporary 2% cap on rent increases in through February 2022 or the end of the state of emergency, as well as a temporary ban on renovictions. The temporary rent cap of 2% was extended until December 31, 2023. NS ACORN members continued their fight for a permanent and real rent control. The province hasn’t introduced a permanent rent cap but members won amendments to the Interim Residential Rental Increase Cap Act which extended the temporary rental increase cap at 5% starting January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2025. The Province intends to set the cap at five per cent per year starting January 1, 2024.

  • BC's renoviction ban

    For years BC ACORN was fighting the rise of no-fault renovictions in BC. Landlords were using the guise of renovations to terminate tenancies in order to get around the rent cap in the province (if a unit is vacant, there are no controls on increases). While vacancy control was the campaign goal that was not achieved, the campaign work did move the NDP government in BC to enact an effective renoviction ban in the process, not a small consolation. As has been recently copied in New Brunswick, if a landlord wants to evict a tenant to renovate, new legislation in BC requires the landlord to prove the renovations are needed to uphold the structural integrity of the building AND that the tenant is required to vacate the building. Due to all the renovations being done in bad-faith, there are close to zero applications being approved by the RTB in BC for eviction due to renovation.

  • Affordable, high speed internet for low-income people

    ACORN has been leading the fight for affordable, high speed internet for all low-income Canadians. In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared that broadband internet access was a basic service – ACORN members played a key role in this ruling. Members delivered 400 testimonials to the hearing, detailing how vital home internet access is, yet how unaffordable internet services are. However, the CRTC’s decision didn’t go a step further to commit to a subsidy to help low-income people access affordable internet.

    ACORN kept pushing and finally won the federal government Connecting Families program in 2018 to provide $10 a month internet at 10Mbps to some families that receive maximum Canada Child Benefit. We estimated this would put approximately $80million in the pockets of low-income parents/ year. As the pandemic hit and so many low-income people and seniors were left without the internet, ACORN members ramped up our organizing and in 2022 won improvements to the Federal Connecting Families program. The Connecting Families 2.0 covers low- income seniors and will offer higher speeds of 50/10 mbps with 200GB of data usage for $20/month.
    The program however has an overall target of benefiting 200,000 families and seniors.

    In addition to the federal government, the campaign has also been able to force private telecoms such as Rogers and TELUS to expand their affordable internet programs to cover many other groups of low-income people such as persons with disabilities, youth etc.

  • Lowering the criminal interest rate for installment loans

    Failure of banks and governments is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to borrow from lenders such as Money Mart, Easy Financial and others that charge predatory interest rates. ACORN’s research in 2021 found a 300% increase in the uptake of installment loans – higher amounts of loans that carry an annual interest rate of 60% plus insurance, fees etc. ACORN has been fighting for fair banking. Members have been doing direct actions and sharing their experiences with predatory lenders which have got wide media coverage. After years of campaigning, ACORN won a commitment from the federal government to lower the interest rate of installment loans from 47% APR to 35% APR. If properly enforced, this decision will help low-income people save millions of dollars.

  • Lowering the NSF Fees

    ACORN Canada has been fighting tooth and nail for a lowered NSF fees. One of the key demands of the ACORN’s National Fair Banking Campaign to the federal government has been to lower the NSF fee to $10. In a press release by the Department of Finance, the government finally admitted that the NSF fee is an unfair penalty on lower-income people and needs to be reined in.

    Most big banks in Canada charge a NSF fee anywhere from $45 to $50. This fee hurts low- and moderate-income people the most. In fact, ACORN’s periodic surveys on fair banking have clearly shown that NSF fee often pushes people to take out payday loans that have annual interest rates of 400-500%.

    Banks are making millions of dollars every year by collecting fees from low-income people. Fees account for 4-6% of the total revenue for all big banks in Canada**.

    In the US, nearly three-fourths of the biggest banks including 27 of the top 30 earners, have eliminated NSF fees and many other banks are following suit. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau data estimates that consumers are saving almost $2 billion annually as a result.

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Organizing Works! We are stronger together