Kitchener-Waterloo Solidarity Network, Scores Victory Against Notorious Landlord As Two Stolen Deposits Returned!

From WPIRG Newsletter: 

We are pleased as punch to announce the winning back of two stolen deposits, both from notorious landlord Sheldon Cook. These victories come after a lengthy process as we worked together with tenants to win back the stolen deposits against a high profile character who had clearly become used to intimidating and pushing people around, breaking the rules, and pocketing the money with little regard to the lives it would impact. It was time for our community to push back, not only sending a message to Sheldon Cook, but to all exploitative landlords in the region. Ultimately, a visit to the landlord’s house by our action squad, along with sustained support and mutual effort between the KW Solidarity Network and the tenants, ended in the victory over this landlord, demonstrating that direct action gets the goods!

Letter Delivery - Sheldon Cook small2 The tenant who came forward felt intimidated and decided not to pursue the case. However, we knew it would only be a matter of time before someone out there would approach us again about this landlord. And we also knew that if we worked together, we could protect ourselves and other tenants from further exploitation, not letting intimidation on the behalf of landlords rule the day, once again.

And we were right. Earlier this year a tenant approached us about his stolen rental deposit of $1095, followed by another tenant, who not only had her rental deposit stolen, but also an advance on utilities, in all totalling $2495. In both cases, Sheldon Cook had failed to uphold his end of the rental agreement, and even proceeded to present new requirements on the rental agreement afterwards, preventing the tenants from moving into their apartments. This was followed by a denial to return the stolen money, as the tenants’ phone calls, emails and text messages were met by an unresponsive landlord. These tenants had done everything right, and were legally entitled to their rental units (and thus the return of all their stolen money).

We began our campaign by attempting to meet with Cook and deliver a demand letter at 93 Benton St accompanied by a 30-member strong action squad. His reputation of being very late, or not showing up at all, was quickly confirmed as he failed to appear for his appointment. As we began working with these cases, numerous articles began to appear in the Waterloo Region Record about Sheldon Cook and his ongoing court battles. The Record also published articles (http://wpirg.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ea3f555edada1115045d50e25&id=c6ce70f580&e=613a590ee4)  about Cook’s troubles with other tenants, some of whom took him to the Landlord and Tenant Board. We sensed things were finally catching up to Cook, and he was feeling the heat. He then started to return calls to disgruntled tenants, as he obviously did not want his profile to be raised further. 

Finally, our first case was settled over the phone as Cook began to realize that he had met his match and it was in his best interest to return the first stolen deposit of $1095. The victims, now backed by our strong network of support and resources, were not going to be intimidated so easily. The 2nd deposit was returned after 25 members of the KW Solidarity Network Action Squad joined the victims of the theft as they delivered a demand letter directly to Cook at his home in Cambridge. Nobody answered the door; although we heard shuffling inside. We then chanted and read the demand letter, also leaving a few copies on his cars and taped to his door. The message came in loud and clear (enough so that many neighbours came out to investigate why we were there). 10 days later, the stolen money was returned, demonstrating that direct action works and is a tool which can and should be used in the face of injustice.

Working together in solidarity, we can fight landlords and bosses, and win! We encourage tenants and workers who have experienced theft, neglect or harassment from their landlords or bosses, to get in touch.

Kitchener-Waterloo Solidarity Network
contact@kwsolidarity.com (mailto:contact@kwsolidarity.com)
1-855-457-8700

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