Hous­ing min­is­ter says rent con­trol will ex­pand

Ex­emp­tion for build­ings built after 1991 ‘not work­ing’

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - May war­ren Metro | Toronto

Bill Davis’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment in­tro­duces rent con­trols. Rent hikes are ini­tially lim­ited to 8 per cent per year. New build­ings are ex­empt. Rent con­trols are sched­uled to end on July 31, 1977, but are later ex­tended.

A gov­ern­ment re­port con­cludes elim­i­nat­ing rent con­trol may be the best op­tion, and sug­gests a tri­bunal be set up to me­di­ate some land­lord-ten­ant dis­putes.

Un­der new land­lord-ten­ant leg­is­la­tion, rent con­trol stays in­def­i­nitely. In­creases are lim­ited to 6 per cent un­less land­lords can prove to new Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Com­mis­sion they need more to re­cover costs.

The Res­i­den­tial Rent Reg­u­la­tion Act in­tro­duces a new for­mula for rent in­creases, based on in­fla­tion and land­lords’ op­er­at­ing costs. Rent con­trol is ex­tended to all rental units in the prov­ince. The prov­ince will ex­pand rent con­trol, On­tario’s Hous­ing Min­is­ter told Metro on Thurs­day.

“It is ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able that so many On­tar­i­ans are faced with hous­ing costs that are ris­ing dra­mat­i­cally,” said Chris Bal­lard, who is also the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy.

The com­ments come as the dis­cus­sion around hous­ing costs in Toronto reaches a fever pitch.

As re­ported by Metro, calls for rent con­trol have been mount­ing from city hall and the NDP in the face of a very low va­cancy rate and soar­ing rents.

The va­cancy rate for avail­able apart­ments in Toronto is 1.3 per cent, and the av­er­age rent is $1,233, up 3.1 per cent from 2015, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. The an­nounce­ment comes shortly after Metro be­gan its Code Red se­ries on the hous­ing cri­sis in Toronto.

Check out the rest of the se­ries at metronews.ca.

Bal­lard said mem­bers of his staff are de­vel­op­ing a plan to ad­dress un­fair rent in­creases as part of an on­go­ing re­view of the Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Act. He de­clined to com­ment on whether that would in­clude scrap­ping leg­is­la­tion that ex­empts build­ings built after 1991 from lim­its on rent in­crease or put a time­frame on changes.

That leg­is­la­tion was orig­i­nally in­tro­duced in the 1990s to pro­vide an in­cen­tive for de­vel­op­ers to build rental hous­ing, but has come un­der fire in Toronto’s hous­ing mar­ket for leav­ing ten­ants vul­ner­a­ble to yearly rent hikes of hun­dreds, or even thou­sands of dol­lars.

“Clearly that 1991 ex­emp­tion is not leg­is­la­tion that’s work­ing to­day,” Bal­lard said.

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns an­nounced this week he will in­tro­duce a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill on Mon­day to end the 1991 ex­emp­tion. (For all other build­ings the prov­ince sets yearly guide­lines for rent in­creases, based on fac­tors like the rate of in­fla­tion.)

Tabuns, who rep­re­sents Toronto Dan­forth, said he’s been hear­ing more and more from ten­ants about huge rent in­creases. Some have been forced to move out be­cause they just can’t af­ford the hikes.

“They’re put in a very tough sit­u­a­tion,” he told Metro.

Pri­vate mem­ber’s bills rarely pass. There have been at least two oth­ers put for­ward to scrap the same loop­hole since 2011.

“You have in­vestor, land­lord, and de­vel­oper in­ter­ests who re­ally don’t want their abil­ity to make a profit con­strained in any way,” Tabuns said.

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