Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Are you eligible for a rent decrease? Don’t count on your landlord telling you about it.

Published on April 9, 2024

It’s tough being a renter in Ontario today. The Conservatives have had six years to fix the housing crisis and they’ve failed. It has never been more expensive to rent or buy a home.

We’ve recently discovered that some corporate landlords are twisting the knife and making renting even harder by charging illegal rents.

Big landlords have developed a penchant for applying and getting Above Guideline Rent Increases approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board to help cover the cost of maintaining a building.

It’s Canada’s biggest and most profitable landlords that most frequently apply for rent hikes about the provincial yearly maximum, filing 100s of Above Guideline Rent Increases each year on the thousands of tenants who live in their buildings. 

A renter could pay up to $35,000 more in rent over the course of an Above Guideline Rent Increase’s lifetime.  That’s a whole lot of money.

Almost all of these companies can easily cover the cost of maintaining a building with the millions in rent they collect, but they choose to ask for an extra rent increase because Ontario law lets them do it.

Now Above Guideline Rent Increases have an expiry date, and once that expiry date is reached – it can take 10 to 15 years - a tenant should automatically have their rent reduced.

Here’s the problem. Landlords are not reducing the rent once an AGI has expired, they’re not telling their tenants they’re eligible for a rent reduction, and they’re only reducing the rent when we go into a building, talk to tenants, and catch them in the act of doing something that is illegal.

We just experienced this issue at a big rental building at 57 Charles St and 33 Eastmount in our ridings in March. We talked to tenants in the building, and not one of them knew they were eligible for a rent reduction. We told them they were eligible for a reduction, they contacted their landlord, and the landlord only after they’d been caught, said oh yes, you’re right.

This is not a one-off. There are about 200,000 households in Ontario that have been forced to pay an Above Guideline Rent Increase since 2012.

Many of them, right now, could be eligible for a rent reduction because their landlord is not following the law and automatically lowering the rent like they’re supposed to.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of overpaid rent is at stake.

We need to get tough on big landlords that abuse the AGI process and refuse to automatically lower the rent like they’re required to by law.

The Conservatives are reluctant to enforce these rules and make life better for renters because they’ve picked the side of big landlords, and it is renters that suffer as a result.

Renters in Ontario deserve to live in a good home they can afford. Their homes should be properly maintained, they should not be illegally evicted or threatened, and they shouldn’t be duped into paying more rent than they’re required to pay.

To make life better and more affordable for renter households, we need to enforce the laws we’ve got, and bring in stronger ones, starting with clamping down on AGI abuse and strong rent control on all homes to stabilize rent.  We have no time to waste. The affordability of our province is at stake. 

If you believe you are eligible for a rent reduction, please contact our office at [email protected].

Jessica Bell is the MPP for University Rosedale and the NDP housing critic.

Peter Tabuns is the MPP for Danforth and the NDP energy and climate crisis critic.