Renters News: Tenants Rights and Social Justice Issues
This page has become so large that I have begun tags that will take you to the particular sections in it.
If you have paid a last month's rent deposit on the apartment you rent, your landlord legally owes you interest under the Residential Tenanciesa Act. For more information visit Last Months' Rent Deposits.
But not all housing is covered even by vacancy decontrol under the Residential Tenancies Act. See Tenants Receive Notice of 30% rent increases, Northern Life, Sudbury, January 11, 2008
Tenants condemn Ontario rent increase guideline, August 30, 2003, press release from this web site and the North Toronto Tenants' Network (tenants association) on the 2004 Ontario Rent Increase Guideline announced that day, explaining why there should be no annual rent increase guideline, and how it has compounded over the years.
Ontario and housing under the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government Shelter after 10 years of storms, by Carol Goar, Toronto Star, November 19, 2003. What will Ontario's new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, John Gerretsen, do for Ontario's four-million tenants and to start creating affordable housing again?
More tenants find they can't afford the rent, Homelessness on rise as a result Toronto Star, Sept. 3, 2003
Tenant Protection Act should do just that, EDITORIAL, Toronto Star, September 5, 2002
Seniors suffer over high rents in Burlington, Hamilton Spectator, September 9, 2002
Minto tenants say rent hike 'not justified' Ottawa Citizen, January 30, 2002. Some Ottawa tenants living in Minto buildings are receiving rent increases of up to 13.49% under the government's Tenant "Protection" Act. And Minto donated $5000 to Ernie Eve's campaign to become leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
Another older story, same as the long list of similar one about unaffordable rent increases Rent Hike Threatens Poorest Tenants Hamilton Spectator, August 30, 2001.
While the Residential Tenancies Act did fix the unfairness that rents could increase due to increase in utility costs over the previous years but did not consider longer periods of times and did not permit decreases in rent to match decreases in utility costs, it refused to fix the many years over which landlords repeatedly got rent increases when natural gas prices rose, but fell in the years inbetween. The McGuinty government did nothing to reverse this unfair enrichment of landlords.
And the Residential Tenancies Act has introduced a new item: smart meters. I will be writing in the future about why "smart meters" are dumb to force on renters.
Like I have been saying on this web site for several years, the 2000 spike in natural gas costs have led to unconscionable profits for landlords. So much for Social Justice! Some people are negotiating with the Dalton McGuinty government to try to get a few changes improve the Tenant Protection Act. A few changes are not enough; The law needs to be repealed. It is too flawed in so many respects to be improved.
For more information on this topic, read below about the Rent Increase Guideline, as well as on the Your Utility Costs page. You can also look at the my top recommendations on the My Ontario Housing Policy changes.
As this web site has been warning tenants since 2001 landlords all over Ontario received Above Guideline Rent Increases(AGI) for the Winter of 2000/2001's huge temporary increase in natural gas prices. While there may appear to be nothing wrong with someone passing on their costs, the cost of natural gas then came back down, but the increase landlords recieved continue to this day even though prices later came back down. Under the Ontario Tenant "Protection" Act, landlords can get above guideline rent increases (with no cap on them) when utility costs go up, but tenants can not apply for a decrease when the utilities or any other costs come back down! And if the landlord puts in energy or water saving measures, you pay for the renovations, but they get to pocket the savings you paid for! Also, now that Natural Gas prices have gone back up, see the Natural Gas price chart landlords can and will apply for another uncapped above guideline rent increase for the increase over the previous years costs; This even though the increases they received over the past two years (depending on when they applied,) were already getting the increase from 2000's prices. That means that each increase is piled upon the previous increase, permanently, if in intervening years the prices fall back down.. Is that fair? NO! Is that social justice? NO!Why should landlords get another rent increase for natural gas going back up to the levels for which we got the last AGI rent increases?
Landlord's special levy upheld, But court says province should review rental law, Toronto Star, August 27, 2002
Rent hikes based on gas spike are `illegal,' appeal told, by Kerry Gillsepie, Toronto Star, June 29, 2002
Tenants fight rental increases, by Kerry Gillespie, Toronto Star, April 9, 2002
And here is another. Rental Balance, EDITORIAL, Toronto Star, November 13, 2001
It seems that some media listen to this site, even if the response is a bit slow. The discussion about the unfairness in the Tenant "Protection" Act in regards to temporary increases in heating costs was posted in August of 2001, and I posted about it on some local newsgroups in October, and finally in the middle of November, the newspapers had picked up on this issue! Please read If Gas Prices Fall, Rents Must Too, Toronto Star, November 12, 2001
What is needed is a study to see what the eviction and turnover rates are in apartments owed by these investment trusts, in comparison to the averages for all other rental apartments.
Acquisition of 221 Apartment Suites in Ontario for $11.125 Million, CNW Oct. 12, 2005
Primecorp Commercial Realty Inc. Advises on $126.3M Multiple Portfolio Sale of Canadian Apartment Properties CNW, Oct. 4, 2005. Large landlords still find apartments so profitable that they are continuing to buy up high-rise buildings
Report Shows Rents Are Going Up in Toronto Radio 640, Sept. 13, 2005, and to read the report go to: Where’s Home? A Picture of Housing Needs in Ontario (2005), Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, Septmeber 12, 2005
Merger of REITs to create colossus; Property trusts in $510 million deal, Toronto Star, March 31, 2004
Apartment demand exceeds supply, Globe and Mail, March 16, 2004. People wouldn't be so desperate to buy apartment buildings if they were not producing such lucrative profits.
Toronto firm buys 22 city buildings London Free Press, July 7, 2002. Believe me they wouldn't be buying up these London apartment buildings if they didn't think it was immensely profitable.
Real estate trust to add apartments in bid to match banner year: 27% return in 2001, National Post, June 13, 2002
Have you heard of any legal business with returns of 27% profit annually?
And landlords say things are improving for tenants due to their claims of rising vacancy rates. Vacancy rate doubles as interest rates remain low, National Post, June 13, 2002. From what tenants are telling me, vacancy rates are rising, but only in the apartments over $1,000 a month, with tenants being forced to either scale down the size of the apartments or doubling up, both of which is leading to severe overcrowding in some situations. The only people the situation is improving for is the landlords!
Report urges Ontario to reverse policies to ease rental-housing crisis, Canadian Press, June 10, 2002
Rental tribunal `aligned inappropriately' with landlords, Toronto Star, March 1, 2006
Premier neglects tenant rights, Toronto Star, Oct 31, 2005
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, Landlords may not ask a tenant for more than just first month's plus last month's rent up front. Of course the best way to prove a landlord is in breach of the law is with receipts such as cancelled cheques for more than just the two months' rent down-payment. And of course if you complain to the prospective landlord what they are doing is illegal, they will just rent the apartment to someone else. Where is the social justice?
There seems to be two options against those landlords who are doing these illegal charges:
For those who can afford it, talk the landlord down to as few months as possible, pay the illegal down-payment so you get the housing, and once you are in the apartment, file a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board, including copies of either the receipt(s) of payment from the landlord, the cancelled cheques, or money order receipt in your application to the Tribunal, to get your overpayment back. Then file a complaint with the Investigation and Enforcement Unit, (IEU,) of the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at 416-585-7214, or outside of the 416 calling area, toll free at 1-888-772-9277.
And for those who, as most, cannot afford more than first and last month's rent deposits, you can either forget about getting a place in that building, or go with a witness and a hidden taperecorder and then immediately take that tape of the demand by the landlord for more than just the first and last months' rent deposit to the media in the hopes it will force the landlord to take you on as a tenant without the extra illegal deposit.
Forum hears of discrimination in housing, Would-be tenants say they were victims of racism, Toronto Star, March 21, 2002
Illegal Rent Requests - Immigrants can pay a year's rent Hamilton Spectator, Monday, July 30, 2001.
Landlord demands up to one year's rent from newcomers, Toronto Star, July 29, 2001
High-rise Ghettos In Toronto, visible minorities are pushed into `pockets of poverty', Toronto Star, Feb. 3, 2001
Poor? Coloured? Then it's no vacancy, Housing discrimination rampant, says poverty report, despite fact that visible minorities are poised to become city's majority, Globe and Mail, July 18, 2000. And here is the report, Accommodation on the Basis of Age and Race: 1996 Census Results, this article is talking about.
Phony landlord had more victims, police say, by John Deverell, Toronto Star, August 20, 2002
Apartment scam fools students, Ryerson University students lose deposit to fraud, Toronto Star, August 15, 2002
Man charged in apartment deposit fraud East York Guardian Mirror, November 24, 2001
Will that be residence, or a free PC?, Toronto Star, July 16, 2003. and Universities give gifts for students' rooms, Globe and Mail, July 16, 2003. Another year, another round of college and university student housing shortages. Of course this year it is blamed on the "double-cohort".
A lesson in supply & demand from the Ottawa Sun, September 1, 2002, is a story on the severe shortage of campus housing at Carleton University as well as elsewhere.
Waterloo still building dorm space, (student housing shortage on campus too,) Guelph Mercury, August 27, 2002
McMaster University tries triple bunking, (housing shortage, on campus too,) Hamilton Spectator, August 13, 2002
Universities scramble to head off housing crunch Ottawa Citizen, July 13, 2002
Reading, writing and rental woes Ottawa Citizen, August 31, 2001
NDP warns of rental scam, Ontario landlords said using `discounted' rents to lure unsuspecting tenants, Canadian Press, February 26, 2002
Because of the many requests I get that I just don't have the time to respond to and that I couldn't help anyways on trying to find housing, I did start the APARTMENT HUNTING page which I hope is of some help.
More rental doors open, but not to poor, Hamilton Spectator, Dec 19, 2005
CAP REIT Announces Solid Improvement in Occupancy, CCN Oct, 3, 2005. Canada's largest landlord has only 2% vacancy rate, down from 3.5% putting government vacancy statistics into doubt.
A good time to focus on the poor, by Tanya Gulliver, Toronto Star, Sept. 5, 2003
The same day as the above report, this web site in conjunction with the North Toronto Tenants' Network, (a local tenants association,/a>,) released our own analysis of these figures because we disagreed with the government's conclusions as to the causes of these changes. Click here to see our analysis of the 2003 rents figures.
Winter Shelter Needs Rising, The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record, January 7, 2003
Loss of rental units hits Toronto hardest, Toronto Star, October 24, 2002
Life can be tough for those on fixed incomes: housing co-ordinator, Belleville Intellegencer, October 15, 2002
Seniors cutting back on food due to rent hikes, activist says The (Kitchener Waterloo) Record, October 3, 2002
Facing the long wait for (public) housing Peterborough Examiner, July 14, 2002
Rents up 16% on Waterloo 3-bedroom housing, Toronto Star, April 29, 2002
Renters' group ambushes Witmer, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, April 25, 2002
Group wants province to freeze rents for seniors on fixed incomes, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, April 16, 2002
Toronto's housing crisis up close and personal The (University of Toronto) Varsity, Monday, December 10, 2001.
Good luck finding an apartment in Hamilton, Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday, November 27, 2001 by Mark McNeil.
The (Kitchener-Waterloo) Record Newspaper did their own article on this issue Rentals tight across the region, Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Here is another article from The Record, noting the lack of affordable housing and how rising rents are causing economic evictions and homelessness in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Decent Housing Should Be A Right, Not Dream, The Record, February 5, 2001
It is unusual to say there is some "criminal intent" in writing a law, but what else could one say about Section 141 of the Tenant Protection Act?
This section says that if a landlord has gotten away with an illegal rent, illegal rent increase, or other illegal charge, and you have not caught it and filed an application against it within one year of the date of the illegal charge, it becomes . . . legal !
Rail lands housing depends on cash boost Toronto Star April 20/06
$400M program to help house needy Toronto Star Sep 1/05
Housing cash flowing Toronto Sun Sep 1/05
Critics: Housing fund will have little impact CP Aug 31/05
Toronto to get $116 million for housing, rent subsidies Toronto Star Aug 31/05
Housing funds flow to city G&M April 30/05
London Ontario ready to get moving with affordable housing projects London Free Press April 30/05
Feds sign low-cost housing deal Broadcast News, April 29/05
Ontario, Ottawa sign $602M housing deal CP April 29/05
Poor kept waiting, Toronto Star, Wednesday, December 12, 2001