Councillor Josh Matlow

Advocating for Ontario’s Tenants

Excerpt from April 24th E-newsletter:

Ontario Tenants Still Vulnerable with May Rent Due in A Week         
The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent on May 1st due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. Renters and Landlords in Ontario, like those in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, are in need of assistance to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

It is unacceptable that renters have been completely left out of provincial support plans in Ontario. Even with federal government income assistance, far too many tenants are being forced to choose between paying rent and buying groceries.

The average rent for a 1 bedroom is now $2,250, more than the $2,000 monthly CERB payment from the federal government. While eviction orders are frozen during the course of the pandemic, Landlords are still allowed to proceed with eviction notices (N4s).

To support tenants and provide surety to Landlords, the Premier must provide a clear strategy that includes:
• Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
•Ban eviction notices: While eviction orders have been suspended, landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage– COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.
• No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

The province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords are still requiring full payment and issuing N4s. As an example, while this Toronto-based Youtube webinar for Landlords advises negotiation with tenants, there is also a recommendation to start the eviction process now on tenants that cannot afford to pay rent (scroll to 14:30).

To add your voice to support tenants, please email Premier Ford: premier@ontario.ca

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Excerpt from April 17th E-newsletter:

Please see the City’s COVID-19 resource page for tenants and property owners here

As May 1st approaches, I continue to hear from tenants who are extremely concerned about their ability to meet rent obligations, along with other basic needs like providing food for themselves or their family without completely depleting whatever emergency savings they may have. With over 50% of tenants in Ontario paying above the affordable threshold of rent, supports by the Federal government are still falling short. That is why, the Provincial government needs to show leadership like British Columbia or Prince Edward Island and provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis.

I’m also hearing from small landlords who are ineligible for mortgage deferrals. While I understand that this is a challenging financial situation for everyone, if small landlords cannot meet their financial obligations to cover their mortgages and they won’t be able to provide safe, clean and well-maintained homes for their tenants.

While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home so it’s only reasonable that the government provide a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part.

• Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.

• Ban eviction notices: While eviction orders have been suspended, Landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.

• No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that some Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now. For more information, please see this article.

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Excerpt from April 4th E-newsletter: 

Tenants Left Vulnerable as Province Fails to Move Forward with Plan to Support Renters and Landlords: 

The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home help limit the spread of COVID -19. It’s only reasonable that the government provides a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part. The Ontario government needs to implement a plan that includes:

•         Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
•         Ban eviction notices: while eviction orders have been suspended, Landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.
•         No Rent Increases: I have heard from many tenants that Landlords are still issuing Guideline and even Above the Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs). There should be a pause on these increases during the course of the pandemic.

Premier Ford announced, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t rent pay rent”, at a recent press conference, leading to confusion amongst tenants and Landlords alike. Moreover, the province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords still demanded full rent payments.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now. For more information, please see this article.

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Letter to Minister Clark on Premier Ford’s Statement on Providing Immediate Rent Relief for Tenants

March 26, 2020

Hon. Steve Clark
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor
777 Bay St. Toronto,ON M5G 2E5

Re: Premier Ford’s Statement on Providing Immediate Rent Relief for Tenants

Minister Clark,

I am writing to seek clarification on Premier Ford’s comment regarding support for Ontario tenants during the COVID – 19 crisis. In a press conference earlier today, the Premier stated, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”. Mr. Ford also made it clear that if you have a job and are able to pay rent, don’t take advantage.

This announcement is welcome and reassuring news to the hundreds of thousands of renters in Ontario, including my Toronto-St. Paul’s Ward, that have lost their jobs and are worried about being unable to pay their rent on April 1st.

I have received a number of questions in the hours since the Premier’s statement that I am seeking clarification on from you, including:

• Will April rent, and subsequent month’s rent until the COVID – 19 crisis subsides, be waived or deferred? I am concerned that deferral will only delay financial crises and a resulting spike in homelessness.
• Is there a specific program that Landlords can apply for to offset their lost rent?

I look forward to your response to these questions. Thank you to the Premier and your government for supporting Ontario’s tenants during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Josh
Councillor Josh Matlow
City Councillor
Toronto – St. Paul’s
www.joshmatlow.ca
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More Immediate Support Needed for Tenants: 

March 27th- E-newsletter

Tenants who have lost their income due to COVID – 19 are increasingly worried about being able to pay their rent as April 1st approaches. Unfortunately, no direct supports for renters has been announced yet. Yesterday, in a press conference, Premier Ford stated, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”. The Premier also made it clear that if you have a job and are able to pay rent, don’t take advantage.

I then wrote to Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs, to seek clarification on the Premier’s comment. While I have not received a response, the Minister wrote an oped in the Toronto Sun addressing the issue in which he said that tenants should “speak to your landlord about whether it can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to”.

While I applaud and appreciate the Provincial Government’s initiative to temporarily freeze evictions, that measure alone is insufficient. Arrangements between Landlords and tenants to either not pay rent or receive a discount should not be left to the ad-hoc whims of individual circumstances. The province should step up and ensure that renters are secure in their homes and Landlords are able to meet their financial obligations with a detailed plan that everyone can understand.

I asked the Minister two important questions that have not been answered since the Premier’s statement to tenants that they don’t have to pay rent on April 1st:

  • Will April rent, and subsequent month’s rent until the COVID – 19 crisis subsides, be waived or deferred? I am concerned that deferral will only delay financial crises and a resulting spike in homelessness.
  • Is there a specific program that Landlords can apply for to offset their lost rent?

I will continue pursuing answers to these questions. For further clarification, and to have your voice heard, please email the Minister of Municipal Affairs: minister.mah@ontario.ca
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Landlords & Condo Boards Urged to Adopt New Health and Safety Measures to Protect Residents from COVID-19:

March 27th- E-newsletter

The City of Toronto is urging Landlords and Condo Boards to adopt new health and safety measures to protect residents from COVID-19. Large residential buildings with a high number of units require new practices and a rigorous cleaning routine to prevent viral spread.

It’s impossible for renters to adopt life-saving hygiene and social distancing practices if, for instance, hand sanitizer isn’t accessible and elevators and common areas are crowded. That’s why building operators and staff should follow these guidelines to protect residents in vertical communities:

  •  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a hand washing station with soap and water should be placed at all building entrances.
    •    Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be available in all common areas that remain open, such as laundry rooms.
    •    Close non-essential common areas such as bathrooms, gyms, playrooms, playgrounds and other high traffic areas.
    •    Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in common areas, including doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads, with common household cleaners and disinfectants.
    •    Organize the building to accept deliveries of essential goods, like medications, for residents to avoid non-essential trips outside.
    •    Post signage limiting the number of residents allowed in common areas, including laundry rooms and elevators, to ensure that individuals are able to maintain a two-metre distance. Consider allowing a maximum of three residents at a time in elevators.
    •    When showing units or suites for sale or lease, practice physical distancing – keep a safe distance of two metres from the resident and wash hands with soap and water, and or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before and after the visit.

Additional information regarding General Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings can be found here
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Ontario tenants left vulnerable with rent due tomorrow: Province needs rent forgiveness plan for tenants that includes offsets for Landlords now:

March 31st, 2020

Toronto – The provincial government needs to provide support for tenants who are unable to pay their rent tomorrow, April 1st, due to lost income because of the COVID – 19 crisis. While Premier Ford took a good first step by freezing eviction orders during the course of the pandemic, renters and Landlords are in need of clarity and surety from the province regarding what they can expect tomorrow to ensure that they are not in financial ruin when the crisis is over.

“Tenants are answering the government’s call to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID -19. It’s only reasonable that the government provides a realistic plan to ensure that renters can afford to do their part,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, Toronto – St. Paul’s.

To support tenants and provide surety to Landlords, the Premier must provide a clear strategy that includes:

  • Rent forgiveness for vulnerable tenants: Offset payments for Landlords to forgive rent for tenants who now qualify for federal income supports. Deferrals could lead to mass evictions and financial ruin when the COVID – 19 crisis is over. The provincial government in British Colombia has taken a similar approach.
  • Ban eviction notices: while eviction orders have been suspended, landlords are still allowed to file eviction notices and are “entitled to collect compensation from a tenant for each day an eviction order is not enforced,” according to this recently posted provincial webpage COVID -19: information for Landlords. If allowed to continue, this measure will leave a threat of eviction over the heads of tenants; exacerbating a public health and financial crisis.

Premier Ford announced, “If you can’t pay rent, and you’re in a crisis, you don’t have to pay rent”, at a recent press conference, leading to confusion amongst tenants and Landlords alike. Moreover, the province’s formal advice for tenants to “speak to your landlord about whether (rent) can be postponed or if other payment arrangements can be agreed to,” has not proven effective. Far too many Landlords are still demanding full rent payments tomorrow.

The province must come forward with a plan to support tenants now.

2020-06-04T15:59:11+00:00
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