January 12th, 2014
Josh Matlow- Ward 22 Councillor
I’ve heard from many midtown tenants that being a renter in Toronto is becoming increasingly difficult and their home budgets are being squeezed tighter every month.
And while I appreciate that guideline rent increases have been capped, Above the Guideline Increases for basic upkeep and repairs have pushed rents that were already steep into the unaffordable range for so many people, including seniors on fixed pensions.
In addition, the low vacancy rate has made it nearly impossible to find lower-cost alternatives elsewhere.
No Torontonian should be forced to choose between paying rent and buying groceries, but that’s the unfortunate choice too many Torontonians are facing.
An AGI is a rent increase above the “Guideline” increase that a landlord can apply for through the Landlord and Tenant Board to cover the cost of capital repairs such as replacing elevators or balconies. As a result of this provincial law, tenants are being unfairly burdened for a landlord’s cost of doing business. Landlords already receive guideline increases and further rent hikes from vacancy decontrol to deal with their costs. Repairs should be included as part of a landlord’s over-all expenses and paid for
from the rent they already receive.
Please take the time to visit my web page at www.joshmatlow.com/agi to write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and your Member of Provincial Parliament to tell them to end this unfair practice. In the meantime, I’m advocating at the city level to support tenants that are facing these rent increases and other breaches of their tenancy, including poor living conditions.
Tenants have the right to live in a clean, well-maintained building and not be subjected to rent increases above the provincially
mandated increase without reasonable justification, or eviction without a fair hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
While there are certainly many decent and caring landlords, I have heard from too many renters who have been treated unfairly. In most instances these tenants were taken advantage of because they were unaware of their rights.
Even if a tenant is knowledgeable it is difficult for most to assert their rights. That’s why the City of Toronto established two main tenants’ defence programs.
The Tenant Support Grants Program provides direct grants to tenant groups wishing to challenge their landlord’s application for a rent increase above the guideline, demolition of their buildings, conversion of their buildings to condominiums and other applications.
The Outreach and Organizing Program helps tenant groups to organize and prepare for hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board for rent increase disputes, or at the Ontario Municipal Board for demolitions and condo conversion matters.
Unfortunately, Mayor Rob Ford has pushed for this program to be reduced or even scrapped. I believe that waste must be cut and tax dollars should be spent wisely.
This program is proven to help people and is a good and low-cost investment. I am working with my colleagues to restore this
funding for Toronto’s tenants for the 2014 budget that will be debated this month.