Toronto landlords are evicting tenants to move back into their apartments at an alarming rate
Renoviction is a term that is likely more familiar to Toronto residents than to people living elsewhere in Canada — and if it's one you somehow haven't heard of yet, it's a problem that's not uncommon in our city and looks to be getting worse.
The expression describes a scenario where a landlord ousts current tenants in order to relist their unit for considerably more in rent, but does so under the guise of completing massive renovations or having themselves or their family members move in, all of which are fair grounds for eviction under current Ontario laws. These are considered "no fault" evictions.
This is a symptom of the financialization of housing. There are no numbers showing the turmoil this throws people's lives into. Without stable & secure housing, all other aspects of life is thrown into complete disarray. https://t.co/BdtpCs4lZc #onpoli #right2housing— Advocacy for Tenants Ontario (@TenantAdvocacy) February 12, 2020
Given the ever-rising rent prices in Toronto — now above $2,300 per month, on average — it's understandable that a landlord would consider the amount of money they could be making if they were able to list a long-occupied unit at current market rates, especially with the desperation of would-be renters amid low housing supply.
Fortunately for tenants, things like rent control and other laws are in place to protect them, but select underhanded property owners can find ways around these barriers to more lucrative rental situations. And thus, renovictions.
renting in toronto in a nutshell pic.twitter.com/M2ozi3Y7q6— Jill Krajewski (@JillKrajewski) February 4, 2019
According to data from the province's Landlord and Tenant Board that was acquired by the Toronto Star, there has been a dramatic increase in potential renovictions over the past four years, with about 150 per cent more cases of landlords attempting to evict tenants for themselves or family members to move in than in previous years, and nearly 80 per cent more cases of landlords trying to evict tenants due to alleged renovations to their units.
Though any number of these applications are fair and justifed, a bigger proportion of tenants are contesting these cases than ever before — 35 to 46 per cent more, depending on which type of no fault eviction is taking place.
Also, as in any case of landlord-tenant hearings in the province, while about 80 per cent of landlords have proper legal representation, a shocking 3 per cent of tenants had the same when seeking resolution, according to The Star's findings.
This trend has been reflected in the results of recent studies from organizations like Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, among others, and is an obvious cause for concern among residents living under what are already volatile and precarious circumstances Toronto.
“And this was Toronto’s first renoviction, but surely not our last!” pic.twitter.com/3sEAwV7Tck— Dwight D. Inosaur (@iamstillben) December 20, 2019
Many members of local government and the public have been long-calling for more affordable housing solutions in Toronto, as well as amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act that would help curb the abuse of no fault evictions and other such problems.
We'll have to wait until this spring to see what changes the provincial government makes to the act (and who the changes will benefit), which it is actively reviewing.
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