Councillor Josh Matlow

Standing up for Tenants

Rental Market Reality

As many of you know, there is a rental housing crisis in Toronto. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% in the past year and very few of the limited apartments available are affordable. That’s why I asked City Planning Staff to bring a report on current rental housing market conditions in Toronto. Planning Staff presented Council with a snapshot of the current housing situation that was even worse than most people feared. In fact, as the chart below demonstrates, purpose-built apartment rents increased the most in 15 years and vacancy rates reached the lowest in 16 years.

Transparency called on for Above the Guideline Increases

As many of you know, I have been requesting that the Ontario government eliminate or drastically reform Above the Guideline rent Increases (AGI). While the province’s The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, improved tenant protections under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) by eliminating the post-1991 exemption and expanding rent control to all private units, the legislation only removed extraordinary increases in utilities from costs that qualify for above the guideline rent increases.

The RTA still allows private market landlords to apply for a rent increase above the guideline (AGI) if:

  • The landlord did extraordinary or significant renovations, repairs, replacements or new additions to the buildings or to individual units; and
  • The landlord’s costs for security services increased, or the landlord began providing security services for the first time

These items should be the basic cost of a landlord’s business and should already be covered in the substantial rent tenants pay. To make matters worse, AGI applications made at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) have very limited publicly available data, hindering the City’s ability to analyze the impact of AGIs on tenants. A clearer understanding of the scale and scope of AGIs in Toronto would allow the City to better develop programs and policies to meet the needs of residents. That’s why I’m pleased to report that my colleagues unanimously passed my motion requesting the province to publicly release AGI data.

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