Rent control announcement promises protection for tenants living in units built after 1991
The provincial government’s announcement Thursday that it is extending rent control to all units built after 1991 has left many tenants and landlords with questions, many of which weren’t answered by the Ontario Fair Housing Plan.
Audience members reached out to CBC Toronto with those queries, so we put them to the ministry in an attempt to clarify the new rules in different scenarios.
Rent increase notice came before April 20
Joshua and his girlfriend got a notice on April 15 that their rent would be going up $300/month as of August 1. Will they have to pay?
Any notices of rent increases given before April 20 would fall under previous rules, meaning all units built after 1991 would not be subject to rent control. Since Joshua received his notice on April 15, his landlord has the right to raise his rent above the rate increase guideline.
Rent increase notice came on April 20
Susan received a notice from her landlord on April 20 — the same day the government announced new rules — saying her $1,500/month rent would be going up $300 in 90 days. What can she do?
The government’s new legislation, which is likely to pass considering the Liberals have a majority, enacts the rent control change as of April 20. This means any above-guideline increases made on or after April 20 would be against the law. For 2017, the increase is set at 1.5 per cent.
She could report her landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board, but the landlord could also apply to the board for an exception if certain criteria are met.
Landlord gives eviction notice for ‘personal use’
Bob is Laura’s landlord. He tells Laura he wants to use his condo for himself and serves her with an eviction notice. The new law says tenants will be “adequately compensated” if this happens. What does this mean for Laura?
A ministry spokesperson says this information will be outlined when the government introduces the legislation, which will happen on Monday. Initial debates on the legislation are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. So right now, it’s unclear how much Bob would have to pay Laura.
Landlord’s hydro bills surpass inflation
Mary is a landlord and has seen her hydro and utility bills jump more than the rate of inflation. With rent increases now staying in line with inflation, what options does she have for raising her tenant’s rent?
As before, Mary will be able to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an above-guideline increase. She will still have to wait 12 months between increases and give 90 days written notice.
Landlords can apply if there are unusually high increases in property taxes or utility costs. But under the new law, Mary will not be able to apply for an above-guideline increase if any elevator work orders in her building are outstanding.
Rental ‘bidding war’
Mike wants to lease his condo at $1,700/month. Seven people submit rental applications, but Kevin offers Mike $1,800/month. Does Kevin get the condo?
There are no provisions in the Ontario Fair Housing Plan to stop rental bidding wars from happening. With the vacancy rate sitting at one per cent in Toronto, supply is still the lowest it’s been in seven years — meaning rental bidding wars are likely to keep happening and Mike can lease his condo to whoever he wants.
Landlord ups rent between tenants
Sarah decides to move out of her $1,900/month lease after one-year. Her landlord decides she’s going to list the condo at $2,700/month on MLS. Is she allowed to do this?
Landlords can increase the rent by any amount they wish in between tenants. There is nothing in Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan that protects rental rates between leases.
Seniors-only building increase
Lilian has a fixed income and lives in a seniors-only residence built in 1995. Her rent increases $100 every year, which is above the rental rate increase guideline. Is she protected under the new proposed legislation?
The government’s plan applies to all “private rental units” in Ontario, which are outlined by the Residential Tenancies Act. Not covered by the act are nursing homes, educational accommodations (dorms) and non-profit co-op housing — to name a few. But “most retirement homes” are covered by the act. However, because Lilian’s residence was built after 1991, she would have been exempt from rent control prior to April 20.
Landlord maintenance fees go up
Sam owns three condos in the same building and rents them out. After a flood, his maintenance fees have shot up exponentially. What can he do to recoup some of his costs from his tenants?
Sam can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an above-guideline rent increase for capital expenses, which include major repairs or renovations that are not part of normal maintenance.
The board will schedule a hearing. The tenants are allowed to challenge their landlord’s application at the hearing. For capital expenses, the board can allow a landlord to increase rent by up to three per cent above the guideline for three years in a row. There is no limit to increases allowed because of taxes and utilities.
What questions do you have about the new Ontario Fair Housing Plan? Email us.