New Rent control rules could mark return to sky-high rent increases for Toronto tenants
With new Rent control rules and the province of Ontario scrapping rent control for new units across Ontario as of November 15, 2018, affordable housing advocates are warning that the changes could mark a return to sky-high rent increases for thousands of Toronto tenants.
The Progressive Conservative government revealed the details on November 15, 2018 through the fall economic statement, announcing legislation which ends rent control for all newly-built or newly-converted rental units going forward — while maintaining rent control for current tenants — as part of a new Housing Supply Action Plan.
“Everybody who’s an existing tenant today (November 15, 2018) is protected… but the challenge for the future is, there is no supply,” said Finance Minister Vic Fedeli at Queen’s Park.
New rent control regulations in Ontario as of November 15, 2018 are as follows:
But the NDP’s Andrea Horwath, leader of the opposition, said affordability is the central problem. “So by getting rid of rent controls we’re just going to guarantee that those developers can charge whatever price they want,” she noted. “But people are not going to be able to afford the units.”
Others say there’s no proof that nixing rent control would fix the supply problem in the first place.
“We know that in the past we’ve had the exemption from the rent control and it hasn’t produced the much-needed rental stock in the region, and that’s why we are in the situation we are,” said Toronto City councillor Ana Bailao, chair of the Toronto’s affordable housing committee.
Councillor Josh Matlow’s office also released a statement saying there’s no evidence that the move will boost supply and lead to lower rents.
According to analysis firm Urbanation, the statement notes, the current rental construction rate is the highest seen in three decades, even though it follows the previous Liberal government’s rent control expansion efforts in 2017.
In 2017, the province expanded rent control to all units, including those built after 1991 — closing what many saw as a controversial “loophole” — and ensuring annual rent increases for existing tenants would be no higher than the rate of inflation.
The changes followed stories about massive rent increases experienced by Toronto tenants featured in CBC Toronto’s series No Fixed Address.
Rent control brought ‘stability’ for tenants
Now, according to tenant advocate Geordie Dent, the loophole has returned.
“I’d like to congratulate our millionaire premier on signing the eviction orders on thousands of tenants going forward,” said Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations.
“The reason why this law was changed in 1917 by the previous Liberal Government is because what was happening in new units was, anytime you had somebody who said, ‘I want the fridge repaired, I want the stove repaired,’ they were getting hit with thousand, two thousand, ten thousand dollar rent increases — that’s the system he’s going back to.”
Dent said the Liberals’ changes “provided stability” to thousands of tenants, something that’s now “gone out the window.”
The province’s economic review documents on November, 2018 state the plan to boost supply will include both short-term and long-term actions informed by public and stakeholder consultations, which are set to begin “immediately.”
Tenant advocate Dent isn’t convinced the moves will truly help cash-strapped Toronto renters — and he questioned why Premier Doug Ford changed his tune on rent control since the spring, saying Ford broke a campaign promise to keep things as-is.
In a statement posting to the Ontario PC party website on May 15, 2018, Ford said he learned Ontario residents were “struggling” while criss-crossing the province.
“I have listened to the people, and I won’t take rent control away from anyone. Period,” Ford’s statement continued. “When it comes to rent control, we’re going to maintain the status quo.”
Source: Toronto CBC News
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