Bill 184 is now officially law in Ontario but tenants and advocates are still fighting it
Ontario's controversial Bill 184 — which tenant advocates say will lead to mass evictions and irreparably harm the city's most vulnerable residents — officially passed on Tuesday and received Royal Assent today, but its opponents aren't backing down just yet.
The provincial government stated in a news release Wednesday that the new legislation "will make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions" by requiring tenant compensation of one month's rent for "no fault" evictions.
It says the bill, which updates the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and Housing Services Act, 2011, will also allow the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months' rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs (i.e. renovictions), and it will double the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.
But experts say this, in reality, does nothing to protect tenants from the fact the the new legislation would allow the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to issue eviction orders without a hearing, and that all changes made under Bill 184 would apply retroactively to when Ontario first declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and temporarily banned residential evictions.
Talk to your neighbours and get organized. Appealing to politicians won’t save us. Activism won’t save us. Petitions won’t save us. Anything that’s not backed by actual power – by forces of organized people – is literally useless. History shows this. #Bill184 #nocovidevictions https://t.co/45PUObccLy— Maryam Laal (@LaalMaryam) July 22, 2020
"The purpose of Bill 184 is to allow corporate landlords to more easily remove the greatest obstacle to increasing their already massive profits: working class tenants," said Cole Webber of Parkdale Community Legal Services.
"Nothing about these measures protect tenants from eviction."
Renters and activists have been protesting and petitioning this bill since it was first proposed months ago, and today was no different.
#Bill184 is now law. Landlords and the politicians have given themselves more power over the homes and lives of working class people.— Cole Webber (@colefwebber) July 22, 2020
Since March working class people in #Toronto have been building their power in their neighbourhoods.
Let's all prepare for the struggle to come. pic.twitter.com/hvPfbJf6IM
Tenants from across the city took to the streets to protest the passing of the bill and to call for no COVID-19 evictions, which many fear will happen en masse once the residential eviction ban is lifted on August 1.
#YSW Tenant Union members are out in solidarity with @TorontoACORN to say #NoCOVIDEvictions to @fordnation and @SteveClarkPC 🚨#Bill184 is an attack on our communities and we won’t back down! #onpoli pic.twitter.com/mc2I8StfdY— YSW Tenant Union (@YSWtenants) July 22, 2020
Some local politicians also marched in solidarity with tenants.
Tenants from across Toronto here at Bay and College with @TorontoACORN to call for #NOCOVIDEvictions!— Riley Peterson (@_rileypeterson) July 22, 2020
City Councillors @m_layton & @kristynwongtam & NDP MPPs @SuzeMorrison, @BhutilaKarpoche, @JILLSLASTWORD and @FaisalHassanNDP here too ✊🏻#Bill184 #onpoli pic.twitter.com/AsNAyEtIF7
Meanwhile, the provincial government says the new bill will help to "modernize and streamline the dispute resolution processes at the Landlord and Tenant Board and encourage the use of alternatives to formal hearings to resolve certain issues and encourage negotiated settlements," as the board must now consider whether a landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before it can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19.
But critics are scoffing at this idea, since many tenants will not be in a position to afford the repayment plans proposed by landlords following months of unemployment caused by the pandemic.
#bill184 is TRICKING you into agreeing with your “compassionate” landlords’ unreasonable repayment plan. They got nothin to lose while you are threatened by losing your roof over your head if you don’t agree. They are NOT compassionate and they are for-profit. Remember!— Vinson Salim (@VinsonSalim) July 22, 2020
In the end, Webber says the new landlord fines announced by the government will do nothing to deter landlords from evicting tenants, and that the bill itself will instead make evictions easier than ever.
"As the case of 795 College Street demonstrated, landlords consider fines to be the cost of doing business," he said.
"It doesn't take long for landlords to recover this money because they are allowed to increase rent on vacant units without limit after pushing tenants out of their homes."
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