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Tenants and Hydro Rate Increases

This is a letter that was distributed November 4, 2002, that was published in the Hamilton Spectator and at least one other paper.

Thousands of Ontario tenants cannot financially cope with a $20 to $40 a month increase in rents due to Ontario electricity price deregulation. The working poor and their families, earning at or near minimum wage which has not gone up from $6.85 since 2001, and those on fixed incomes, certainly can't.

Tenants will be robbed of their hydro rebates if the Ontario government does not take measures now to ensure tenants get those rebates.

For tenants whose rents include hydro, it will be the landlord who receives the hydro rebate. And in rent increase applications, it is the landlord who gets to set the year ending date and they can choose a date that reflects the electricity price increase while excluding the date of any hydro rebate. Unscrupulous landlords may not be so particular about dates and just file the receipts for expenses and not include the rebates. If landlords do that, then it is the tenants who must dispute any above guideline rent increase . This means that tenants must thoroughly analyse the landlord's receipts and demand to know where the rebates are. Many tenants may not know how to collect the data, anlayse the data and question the landlord. They may not have the luxury of time to attend a hearing. In all likelihood, unscrupulous landlords will get away with pocketing the rebates.

Tenants, who pay their electricity costs directly to Hydro, will get their rebates but lose another way. Not only do tenants pay their electricity increases directly to their hydro company, but they still pay for hydro through their rent increases as the annual rent increase guideline, set by the Ontario government, is based upon the inflation rate, which includes the costs of electricity!

Whether Hydro is included in the rent or not, landlords will reap an undeserved windfall of ten's of millions of dollars due to electricity price increases from Ontario's four million tenants.

We call on the John Baird, Minister of Energy, who today said he 'has to do his homework', along with Chris Hodgson, the minister responsible for Housing, to address yet another injustice to Ontario tenants.


Lynn Carleton, North Toronto Tenants Network
E-mail North Toronto Tenants Network

Robert Levitt, Ontario Tenants web site
http://www.geocities.com/torontotenants/




This letter was sent to the Ottawa Citizen on November 11, 2002, and I understand published a week later.

Letter to the Editor:

On November 11, Premier Ernie Eves said, "There are a lot of things you can do without, but electricity isn't one of them." With this he froze retail electricity generation costs to residential and small business customers.

Will Ottawa-Carleton region's 200,000 tenants benefit from this policy?

It is unclear if there will be any rebates for apartment buildings because the contracts are commercial ones between landlords and hydro companies. If there are, for those tenants whose rents include hydro, it will be the landlord who receives the hydro rebate. When landlords apply for rent increases they could use receipts that reflect this years' earlier hydro increases while excluding any later rebate.

These tenants must thoroughly analyse the landlord's receipts and demand to know where the rebates are. Many tenants may not know how to collect and analyse the data, and question the landlord. They may not have the luxury of time to attend a hearing.

Tenants, who pay their electricity costs directly to Hydro, will get their rebates but still pay a second time for additional hydro charges, as the annual rent increase guideline set by the Ontario government is based upon inflation including electricity costs.

Ottawa area tenants will be seeing rent increases in 2003 and 2004 amounting to millions of dollars each year due to the Ontario government's policies on electricity, unless special measures are taken now to include apartments in both the rebates and rate freeze, and to ensure the rebates are passed on to tenants and not pocketed by landlords.

Robert Levitt, Ontario Tenants web site


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