toronto renoviction

Toronto landlord fined $135K for illegally evicting tenants

Dear landlords who think they've found a way to thwart those pesky rent control rules in Toronto: You haven't — and as tempting as it may be for you to boot people from their longtime apartments, paint a few walls, and then jack up the prices up by thousands of dollars, it's shady.

More importantly to you, it could also translate to a heck ton of money in legal fees and fines.

The owner of a recently-renovated apartment building in Little Italy has been ordered to pay at least $135,000 in penalties after kicking out five previous tenants in way that a judge determined to be in violation of Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act.

A release from the province's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states that a landlord known only as 795 College Inc. gave all residents of the eight-unit apartment building near College and Shaw notice to move out for "extensive renovations" in late 2016.

Under Ontario law, tenants who've been asked to leave for renovations have the right of first refusal to move back into their old units once the work is complete — and at the same price as if they'd never left.

Tenants of three different units at 795 College decided that they would, in fact, like to move back into their homes post-reno, and they let the landlord know in writing as required.

And yet, in November of 2017, the same landlord rented out all three of their units to new tenants at three times the previous rent price of about $1,250.

One three bedroom, two bathroom apartment within the building was listed in our rental of the week column in October of 2017 for a whopping $4,200 per month — which only goes to show, again, how quickly rent prices are going up within the city.

Five tenants of 795 College did try to stop their evictions through the Landlord and Tenant Board in Toronto but failed, according to The Star, prompting them to seek out independent legal counsel and, eventually, catch the attention of Ontario's Ministry of Housing Rental Housing Enforcement Unit.

After a thorough investigation and an eventual guilty plea, the ministry announced that the case had wrapped in favour of the tenants on Monday morning.

Justice of the Peace David J. Hunt ordered 795 College Inc. to pay $48,000 in fines, as well as a "25 per cent victim fine surcharge" of $12,000 and another $75,000 in "administrative fines."

The building's previous tenants can't move back into their old units, as the people who live there now cannot legally be ordered out, but at least they got some justice for the renovictions — which, sadly, is more than a lot of renters can say in Toronto these days.

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