QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Jessica Bell’s (University—Rosedale) private member’s bill, Protecting Renters from Illegal Evictions Act, went to second reading in the Ontario legislature Monday. The bill cracks down on landlords who use renovations — otherwise known as renovictions — or falsely claim a relative is moving in as a guise to evict tenants and hike rent prices.
If passed, Bell’s bill would give more rights to tenants facing evictions when they’ve done nothing wrong. The bill would raise fines for landlords who illegally evict tenants, increase government enforcement of the eviction laws, and grant tenants more compensation if evicted in bad faith.
“Toronto has an affordable housing crisis and landlords are increasingly using renoviction tactics to kick existing tenants out and charge new tenants a much higher rent,” said Bell. “Bad faith evictions like these are throwing renters into a housing market ripe with low vacancy rates and skyrocketing rents,” said Bell.
Data from the Landlord and Tenant Board shows that between 2015 and 2019, landlords’ requests for eviction hearings where the tenant has done nothing wrong have risen by 77 percent.
Lynn Gordon, a single mother, recently faced a no-fault eviction from her apartment on Walmer Road. “It was extremely challenging to find a new affordable apartment that allowed my son to be able to attend his local school. High rent prices forced us to take a much smaller, more expensive unit,” said Gordon. “My new unit does not have enough bedrooms, so I am sleeping in the living room. As a teacher working during the pandemic, these close quarters have been particularly challenging,” said Gordon.
Last week, the Ontario NDP released its latest housing plan, Homes You Can Afford. The plan will eliminate Vacancy Decontrol, the deregulation that allows landlords to hike the rent as much as they want between tenants. Ending Vacancy Decontrol will effectively end renovictions. The Conservatives cancelled a protection against Vacancy Decontrol and the previous Liberal government failed to put an end to it, choosing landlord profits over tenant affordability.