toronto rent control

Toronto is urging the provincial government to reinstate rent control rules

Toronto City Council is formally asking the Ontario government to reinstate previous rules limiting how often and (perhaps more importantly) by how much landlords can raise rent prices, after tenants of a newly-built residential complex were notified of a whopping 25 per cent increase.

Ward 5 Councillor Frances Nunziata put forth the request as part of an urgent motion titled "Protecting Tenants from unfair rent increases in new builds," seconded by Ward 19 Councillor Brad Bradford.

The motion, which passed in a 23-2 vote on Wednesday, requests that the province effectively scrap a policy introduced in November of 2018 that itself scrapped rent control rules for all new (as in previously unoccupied) housing units.

Premier Doug Ford's government argued at the time that lifting rent control rules from newly-built units would encourage developers to build more rental housing, thus helping to alleviate the province's housing shortage.

Local advocates feared that the measure would instead allow landlords to (legally) jack up prices at market rate, displacing tenants with years, if not months, of securing their rental homes.

With rent prices rising twice as fast as incomes and Toronto now officially suffering through an affordable housing crisis, city officials are calling upon the Ford government to reconsider.

"Approximately 50 percent of households in Toronto are renters," reads Nunziata's motion. "Without limits to rent increases many Torontonians will be at risk of being priced out of their homes. We must demand better protection for current and future tenants."

Nunziata notes that the City of Toronto itself cannot implement rent control. It can, however, choose which developers secure funding from the city for new builds through its own Housing Now initiative.

It can "ensure that when financial incentives are provided for the construction of affordable housing... all residential units, including those at market rent, are protected from unfair rent increases."

"Unfair" would be considered anything above what's stipulated as a guideline for increases on rent controlled units under the Residential Tenancies Act.

For 2019, the rental increase guideline was set at 1.8 per cent... far lower than the 25 per cent someone tried to bilk out of an entire building full of tenants in Nunziata's ward last week.

"Through my efforts and advocacy by the building's tenants' association, the decision to apply an exorbitant 25 percent rent increase was reversed," wrote the councillor in her motion. "However, tenants will still be facing a six percent rent increase."

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