As the cost of owning a property in Toronto continues to climb, more people are remaining renters for longer than anticipated – and frankly, some may remain so forever. With the rental vacancy rate at a seven-year low of 1 percent, most of us who have scored a decent rental unit know to hold onto it for dear life.
Earlier this year – before new rent control rules were introduced last month with Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan – some Toronto tenants had their rents increased through the roof, some jacked by as much as 30 to 50 per cent. And yes, it was a scary time.
Landlords had been kicking out tenants in favour of the profits gained by short-term rentals via sites like Airbnb. Before the new rules were imposed, landlords could serve their tenants N12 notices that evict the tenant by stating that the landlord or a family member wants to move back into their unit themselves, without offering any proof of their intentions. Now, they must prove that they actually intend on doing so. Previously, the burden of providing proof was on the disgruntled tenants.
Under the new (overdue) rules, landlords issuing N12 notices must also now compensate the tenant for one month’s rent or provide another acceptable rental unit.
Aside from short-term rentals, the appeal of kicking out tenants via N12 notices was due to the fact that landlords are free to increase the rent any amount that they want in between tenants – an attractive option to landlords wishing to take advantage of the rental housing shortage. Now, this is increasingly difficult for them to do via the N12.
The Fair Housing Plan also eliminates the 1991 loophole that enabled landlords to increase rent at their will on properties that were built after 1991. Now – to the collective relief of artists and renters throughout the city – all properties are subject to rent control. Under the new rules, landlords can’t increase the rent more than 2.5 per cent per year unless they apply to the landlord and tenant board for an increase. All notices of rent increase given before April 20, however, fall under the previous rules.
If your landlord wants to enter your unit for any reason – whether this means showing the spot to a prospective new renter, assessing or making repairs or visiting with a potential mortgagee or insurer – they must legally give you 24-hours notice and must enter the unit between the hours of 8am and 8pm This notice must include the reason the landlord wants to enter and the exact time they will be doing so. If this notice is given, the landlord can enter even if the tenant isn’t home (so you may want to hide your weed stash from view).
The only time a landlord can enter without giving notice is in the case of an emergency like a fire or flood, if the tenant allows entry or if a care home tenant has agreed in writing that the landlord can come in to check on their condition at regular intervals.
While you can be evicted for things like not paying rent (obviously), doing anything illegal in the unit, living with too many people or causing a disturbance, your landlord can’t evict you for having loud children, if you have pets (unless it’s a pet-free building) or if you ask for repairs to your unit. Furthermore, a landlord looking to sell the property can’t legally evict you until the property has sold.
If you’re looking for a new place to rent, with the rental market practically as competitive as the buyers’ market is, bidding wars on rental units are increasingly common in Toronto – and that’s totally allowed.
So, the reality is, if you’re seeking even the tiniest condo unit in the downtown core, be prepared to pay at least $2000 per month. And if you’re currently in a rental you only semi love, you may want to consider redecorating instead of trying to find a new place.
Have you ever had to deal with lousy landlords? Do you think the new N12 rule is enough to protect tenants? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.