rent increase

Ontario renters enraged to be facing rent hikes rather than a rent freeze during lockdown

The Ontario government's latest lockdown restrictions have served as fair fodder for an outpouring of complaints that have abounded across social media in recent days, along with calls for further support for people who have now lost their jobs and those who once again face the prospect of losing their entire business.

Residents are rightfully wondering if and when things like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and a pause on student loan interest will return, as well as a rent freeze and a moratorium on evictions.

In the case of the latter two, tenants are actually facing the opposite of a helping hand, as new a rent increase guideline just came into effect provincewide with the dawn of the new year.

As of Jan. 1, landlords can hike rents by up to 1.2 per cent — above-guideline increases of far more as approved by the Landlord and Tenant are also not uncommon — while evictions for those unable to pay have been happening since the government started permitting them again in the summer.

Though the guideline was 2.2 per cent in 2020, as determined before the pandemic began, rent increases were halted last year in light of the obvious.

And, now that we're back facing another set of lockdown restrictions and business closures, the public is wondering why the increase guideline was allowed to come into effect.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing did recently up its tenant compensation for any evictions considered in bad faith and also its fines for landlords trying to wrongfully hike rent or commit any other offences under the Residential Tenancies Act, and also pointed out to the CBC that rent increases aren't mandatory.

But in a city such as Toronto where already high rent prices are back on the climb — now sitting at an average of $2,167 across all unit types and sizes across the GTA as a whole and expected to rise to $2,495 by the end of 2022 — tenants who are now out-of-work as of the Jan. 5 closures are asking for more.

Advocacy groups such as Keep Your Rent continue to fight for another ban on evictions and a temporary end to rent increases, but still await further action from Premier Doug Ford and his team.

Lead photo by

Bernd Toast

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