Toronto to investigate the shocking rise of renovictions in the city

February 20, 2020 By Lauren O'Neil, BlogTO

As rent prices surge with wanton abandon across the city of Toronto, so too do rates of landlords who try to get sneaky with illegal eviction techniques.

A November report from The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario showed that the city has seen a staggering rise in "renovictions" over the past four years, not-so-coincidentally alongside skyrocketing market rental rates.

What's a landlord to do, after all, when a long term tenant won't vacate a rent-controlled unit that could be put back on the market as is for double the cost?

They renovate the place, ask a family member to move in, or pretend to do either of these things.

Experts believe that many landlords have been doing the latter in recent years for the purpose of increased profits, to the tune of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more in their pocket per unit each month.

It's a major problem that's helped give way to a literal crisis — the affordable housing crisis — and city council is finally paying attention.

In a marathon meeting at city hall on Wednesday, Ward 14 councillor Paula Fletcher proposed in an amendment to the city's 2020 operating budget that Toronto look into "adjustments" that could improve housing stability for renters.

Fletcher's amendment, which carried 24-1, requests that the Executive Director of the Housing Secretariat and the General Manager of Shelter Support and Housing Administration include the following in a report that will go before council in June:

"Appropriate City actions and identification of any new resources and/or budget adjustments needed that respond to reno-victions and ways improve housing stability for renters."

The term renoviction is increasingly used by Toronto residents when describing the practice of a landlords faking renovations to jack up rent prices on apartments.

Recent data aquired by the Toronto Star from the provincial Landlord and Tenant Board suggest that the city has seen nearly 80 per cent more cases of landlords trying to evict tenants for (alleged) rennovations since 2016 alone.

Some of these applications are no doubt legit, but it's telling that more of them are now being contested by tenants than ever before — some 35 per cent more, by the Star's estimates.

It would seem as though accusations of the practice have now become so common that the municipal government is ready to step in, even while the provincial government is pulling in the exact opposite direction.

Let's hope that Toronto comes up with some solutions, for everyone's sake.

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