My office is currently working with a group of tenants who were evicted in 2019 from 11 Walmer Road due to renovations. Six of these tenants expressed interest in returning and all filed the appropriate paperwork. Since then they have been patiently watching the renovations, waiting to move back in.
At first the property management company, Cromwell Management, was communicative with the tenants. The tenants were told that their potential return date was December 2021. That time has long come and gone, and tenants are still waiting. The property manager is now advertising that the units are available. Caitlin, one of the tenants, lives in an apartment across the road from 11 Walmer Road. She commented that she has become increasingly concerned as she watches U-Haul trucks park outside and people move in to the newly renovated building.
When the former tenants reached out to inquire about their return they were told that their particular units were not ready and that they would have to wait. In the meantime, these tenants have no choice but to hope that their units aren’t rented to someone else. While we have no evidence that Cromwell Management is going to deny these tenants their right to return to their units, this speaks to a larger issue where tenants are vulnerable to eviction.
The issue at 11 Walmer Road is a common issue, especially in the area close to the University Toronto which is a very desirable area to rent. In theory, these tenants should be able to move back in no problem. The Residential Tenancies Act states that if a tenant is asked to vacate a rental unit for extensive repairs or renovations, that tenant can choose to move back into the rental unit after the repairs or renovations are complete without a substantial increase in rent, as long as they inform their landlord in writing of their intent to return.
In practice, there is no provincial enforcement to ensure an evicted tenant can return to their home. If their landlord does not honour the return, the only choice the tenant has is to file at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and it takes months for a case to be heard. During that waiting period, the landlord can rent out the unit - and once that new tenant has moved in they cannot be evicted and there’s nothing the former tenant can do about it.
That’s why we need to take action.
I have written a letter to Minister Steve Clark and Attorney General Doug Downey outlining this issue and proposing solutions including:
- Increasing government enforcement of eviction laws.
- Granting tenants more compensation if they are illegally evicted.
- Raising the maximum allowable penalty for landlords who illegally evict tenants.
- Strengthening and increasing the number of staff working at the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit so tenants rights are enforced.
- Passing my Protecting Renters from Illegal Evictions Law.
You can download a pdf copy of the letter here and sign on below.
If you or someone you know is a tenant that has been given the runaround regarding your right of return, please reach out to my office at 416 535 7206 or [email protected]