Tenants want province to keep its promise to change rent rules|
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Tenants and organizations representing tenants from across the city streamed into City Hall last night to take part in a special Tenant Forum calling on the province to protect tenants and to change the province’s rental housing law.
Sponsored by the City’s Tenant Defence Sub-Committee, and approved by City Council, the Tenant Forum was held in order to urge the provincial government to move forward on its pledge to repeal the Tenant Protection Act, enacted by the previous provincial government, and to restore real rent control. The Tenant Protection Act is widely seen as having been unfair to tenants since it came into effect in June 1998 - the cause of higher rents despite increased vacancies, and a large jump in evictions over the last eight years. From their experience, tenants say this law has not protected them.
“It’s been three years since this government was elected with a mandate to repeal the Tenant Protection Act and give tenants real protection, and two years since it released its rental housing consultation paper,” said Councillor Michael Walker, Chair of the Tenant Defence Sub-Committee and chair of last night’s Tenant Forum. The Councillor was referring to the province’s rental housing consultation paper release in early 2004 to study the issue of rental housing reform with a view to introducing a new law to replace the Tenant Protection Act.
Councillor Walker added that, “tenants and their representatives have confirmed what the City of Toronto has been saying all along - that it’s time to bring back fairness to Ontario’s rental housing legislation. It’s time to bring back real rent control as promised by Premier Dalton McGuinty.”
Among the issues raised and changes called for by the Tenant Forum participants:
- the negative impact vacancy decontrol has had on the affordability of rental housing
- high rents and unreasonable rent increases above the annual guideline
- lack of proper building maintenance and repairs left undone
- evictions and the requirement that tenants must dispute an eviction notice in writing within five days
- difficulty in finding affordable housing
- loss of affordable rental housing due to demolition or conversion to condos of apartment buildings
- Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal dispute resolution process that presently favours landlords instead of tenants.
“The City of Toronto has always stood by the tenants of Toronto, and now tenants are calling again for change,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, Chair of the City’s Community Services Committee, as part of his opening remarks. “As half of this city’s households are renters, it is vitally important that the province move ahead on the changes they were elected to make,” added the Councillor, noting that reform of rental housing legislation is not just a Toronto issue but one that affects tenants across Ontario.
Speakers at last night’s Tenant Forum noted that John Gerretsen, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is on record recently as having stated that a law to replace the Tenant Protection Act is in the works and would be introduced this spring.
Proceedings from the Tenant Forum will be available by next month. City staff are preparing a report based on findings of the Forum, a report made by the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, and other submissions, to be brought forward at the Tenant Defence Sub-committee this spring. The report along with the recommendations of the Sub-Committee will then come before City Council.
Councillor Michael Walker
Chair, Tenant Defence Sub-Committee
Councillor Joe Mihevc
Chair, Community Services Committee
Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
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