Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Minister Steve Clark declines to support tenants threatened by eviction for using window AC units

Published on December 8, 2022

In June of this year, MPP Bhutila Karpoche and I wrote to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark to inform him about tenants of 130 Jameson Avenue receiving threats and eviction notices from their corporate landlords if they didn’t remove their window air-conditioning units.  We called on Minister Clark and the Ford government to work with public health units to establish a provincial maximum temperature to ensure units are safe and a tenant’s right to a reasonable enjoyment of their unit is maintained.

In November, Minister Clark replied and confirmed that tenants are legally permitted to install air conditioning units according to the Residential Tenancies Act. However, he declined to seriously consider the issues we raised or the policy changes we recommended.  Minister Clark stated that he believes “all Ontarians deserve to have a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home, especially our most vulnerable,” but his Ministry has not backed that up with action.

Only the Landlord and Tenant Board is empowered to evict tenants.  However, every year Ontario renters are threatened with eviction by their landlord for reasons such as having a window air-conditioning unit. The real reason? Getting tenants out in order to significantly raise the rent. Rent for vacant apartments in Toronto have risen by 20% in the last year; landlords are financially incentivized to use loopholes to evict tenants. 

Tenants deserve to live in safe, comfortable, and affordable housing that meets their needs.  Confirming tenants are legally permitted to use air-conditioning units is encouraging, but more action is needed to protect renters.

I am calling on the Ford government to:

  • Work with public health units to establish a provincial maximum temperature to ensure rental units are safe, and a tenants’ reasonable enjoyment of their unit is maintained.
  • Legislate a tenant’s right to safely use window air conditioning units in accordance with all bylaws in the Residential Tenancies Act.
  • Protect tenants against landlord harassment, including repeated threats to evict tenants for safely and legally using window air conditioning units.
  • Upgrade Ontario’s Building Code and invest in a green job retrofit program to make housing more green and energy-efficient, without burdening tenants with rent hikes.
  • Close the vacancy decontrol loophole in the Residential Tenancies Act and stabilize rents between tenants, thereby removing the incentive to evict tenants simply to raise rents.
  • Partner with municipalities to grow urban forests to reduce the heat island effect and lower temperatures in towns and cities.

With the winter upon us, it is important to ensure that tenants can live safely and comfortably in their homes without fearing the threat of eviction. If you are concerned about this issue, I urge you to write to Minister Steve Clark and ask him to do the right thing for renters.

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