As Ontario’s rent freeze ends, this GTA tenant says she’s facing a 21 per cent increase

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Ontario tenants in newly built units are facing unrestricted rent increases as the government prepares to lift freezes imposed during the pandemic. As landlords give 90 days’ notice for the new year, a woman says she is facing a hike of more than 20 percent in her monthly rent bill.

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It is a return to the system enacted by the Ford government in 2018 – which abolished rent controls for occupied units for the first time since November 15 of that year, with investors seeking to build more homes and boost the rental supply. presented as a way to encourage Due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government subsequently halted the increase for rent-controlled units as well as for tenants in those homes.

The return to prior rules has left Sarah Forrest – who rents a three-bedroom, newly built home in Oakville for herself and her two children – facing notices of double-digit increases in her rent bills. Is.

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“I just wanted to throw up,” Forrest said. She expected to see some amount increase, but a notice informed her that her $2,800 rent bill would go up to $3,400, which left her upset.

For landlords in non-rent-controlled units, rising costs by that amount doesn’t break any rules. But Forrest says that for a single mom, it would be hard to find an extra $600 a month.

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“There’s a certain category of units where, all of a sudden, it’s free for everyone,” said Benjamin Rees, an attorney with Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services who works on residential tenancy cases. For rent controlled units, the maximum rent hike for the next year has been fixed at 1.2 per cent.

Reus is among critics of the province’s rent control system, arguing that it was inconsistent to have a freeze that applies across the board, then revert to a system where certain units are exempt from the rules. .

“We need rent controls for all, because (I) don’t buy into the idea that an exemption from rent controls – a complete exemption – is necessary to incentivize rental housing construction,” he said. .

While he expected to see the cost of rents rise in unregulated units for 2022, he was surprised by how quickly the rental market is beginning to recover from its pandemic slowdown – conditions he believes will lead to landlords to embrace Looking for “huge growth”.

According to an analysis by Rentals.ca, Toronto’s condo rental market alone has seen average rents increase by 15 percent since February, when rent costs hit a particularly low point.

Competition for apartments is expected to intensify in response to the improving demand. While the pandemic had earlier seen some landlords offering incentives to attract potential tenants, industry players now see signs of the market going in the other direction. In a case recently reported by the Star, a tenant claimed they were asked to pay five months’ rent to close a Toronto condo.

Tony Irwin, president of the Rental-Housing Providers Federation of Ontario, said property owners saw increased costs such as taxes, utilities and insurance during the pandemic.

They believe a 1.2 per cent cap on the increase in rent-controlled area could help meet some of those demands, and the exemption for units occupied for the first time after November 15, 2018. supports, which agrees with the position of the provincial government that it acts as one. Incentives specifically for making purpose-built fare.

But when he declined to comment on specific cases, he said instances where landlords were making huge increases were indicative of a market where demand far exceeds supply.

If there is more supply in the rental environment, he believes the market will be less volatile, and the “wider issue” of a sharp increase will be less intense.

“It tells us we need to go back to building more housing,” Irwin said of the recovery in the rental market.

Forrest’s landlord, Ragi Rofel, reached by phone on Thursday, declined to speak with the star.

Forrest said he struggled with finding his current location, and spent months scouring the market. From time to time, one unit would move to another, as it faced a deadline to leave its old home. The new owners had taken over the unit, she told Starr, and she had agreed to evacuate.

Now, she’s weighing the extra cost per month against the upfront cost of a move elsewhere — and feeling frustrated about the potential increase when the new year hits.

“I was just mind blowing,” she said. “I expected it to come down to $3,000.”

Victoria Gibson is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering affordable housing. Reach him via email: [email protected]
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