March 4th, 2014
Acting on a motion by two midtown councillors, the city is asking the province to look at ways to control rent increases and prevent landlords from raising rents above the guidelines set by the province each year.
The motion, moved by Josh Matlow and seconded by John Parker, asks for four changes within the Residential Tenancies Act, which would effectively allow landlords to raise rents above the guidelines only to cover security services.
Council passed the motion 38-2 on Feb. 20.
Above-the-guideline increases are allowable only when the municipal taxes or utilities for a property increase by more than the provincial guideline plus an additional 50 percent, for security services, or for certain capital expenditures.
Matlow and Parker said they were influenced by tenants in their wards when putting the motion forward.
“What I’ve seen happen in apartment buildings in Davisville, the Yonge and Eglinton area and many other buildings is tenants have been hit by sometimes annual above-the-guideline rent increases, which has taken a toll on their ability to buy groceries and pay the rent,” Matlow said. “Some seniors on fixed pensions have been forced out of their homes, and I think enough is enough.”
Parker echoed the sentiment, saying the goal is to get the province to see the struggle of some tenants and to take action on their behalf.
“It’s a request of Queens Park to think of renters as they develop policy and I look forward to making some progress on the whole file,” he said. “Whether they take us up on our request or whether it leads to a dialogue remains to be seen, but it’s a way of alerting Queens Park to the fact that it’s something we have an interest in.”
Matlow said landlords have a responsibility to keep their properties in good repair for the tenants, who shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for someone else’s asset.
Parker said the city is looking for a way to level the playing field for tenants.
“We are always looking for ways to help renters, particularly in ways that don’t come at a cost to landlords or to the taxpayer,” he said. “It’s not a matter of being unfair to someone else, it’s about finding ways to make life as easy as possible for those who find that large components of their income are consumed by the expense of putting a roof over their heads.”
Four revisions the city will ask the province to consider to the tenants law:
• Disallow landlords’ abilities to levy above-the-guideline rent increases to subsidize costs related to taxes and utilities.
• Disallow using capital expenditures like general maintenance and repairs as a reason for above-the-guideline rent increases.
• Disallow rent increases as a result of those two being enacted.
• Require landlords to put aside 10 percent of rental income into a new account intended for capital expenditures like general.
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