Toronto's top housing official is calling for an end to landlords raising rents between tenants
Published Tuesday, July 19, 2022 11:10AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 19, 2022 11:42AM EDT
Toronto's top housing official is calling for an end to a loophole that allows landlords to hike rents between tenants as part of a new "renoviction" policy that will be considered by city council today.
There is a cap on how much a landlord can raise a tenant's rent each year, which the province recently more than doubled to 2.5 per cent for the upcoming year. However, provincial law allows landlords to evict tenants if they are undertaking major renovations on a unit and there is no rule that bars landlords from raising the rent between tenants.
A report, penned by the city’s top housing official, notes the growing trend of “renovictions” in Toronto and explains the practice as a landlord illegally evicting a tenant by alleging they need vacant possession of a residential unit to undertake renovations or repairs.
Once the unit is vacant, the landlord can increase rent to market value.
The result of these “renovictions” is a diminishing supply of affordable housing, writes Abigail Bond, housing secretariat executive director. This comes as a new report finds rent prices are soaring in Toronto, rising by 20 per cent over the last year.
“The primary objectives of these activities are to preserve the city's affordable and mid-range rental housing supply and help support tenants who are at risk of being evicted,” Bond said.
While the policy and potential future by-law can’t actually stop “renovictions,” since that would be under the jurisdiction of the province, they would “leverage the city's authorities” to deter the practice.
Ontario’s NDP housing critic MPP Jessica Bell pointed to how the lack of oversight in this department has contributed to skyrocketing rental prices.
“People in Ontario are smack in the middle of a housing crisis, and Doug Ford’s insistence on allowing landlords to hike the rent unchecked between tenants is a major contributor to driving up market rental prices,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
She also pushed for the Ford government to pass the NDP’s Rent Stabilization Act, which would ensure new tenants pay the same price as the prior tenants. “The NDP is committed to passing this legislation as a step to addressing Ontario’s housing crisis, and we will retable it in the Legislature this coming session,” Bell said.
The report before city council suggests educational outreach on tenants’ rights along with enforcement efforts to investigate violations and take appropriate action. Bond said this could serve as an entryway into a “whole-of-government” approach.
“Actions from the federal and provincial governments are urgently needed to implement the systemic and structural changes, outside municipal jurisdiction, to address the root causes of evictions,” Bond said.