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Rental Fairness Act: Act of kindness, or barrier to affordable housing? Either way, it will change everything for renters.

With 1.2 million rental households in Ontario, frequently rented from condo-owners, the stakes are high for Ontario residents in a “fairness” rental act. Ontario is following through on their announcements of rent control reform. A news release from Ontario’s Ministry of Housing makes it clear The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, is a coming reality. It’s safe to say, the government probably has the will and votes to make it happen. The language, though soft-selling hard-hitting rule changes, makes it clear that “fairness” is at stake.

 

Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynn speaking on Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan.

 

“The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, would address rising rental costs faced by people in Ontario by expanding rent control to all private rental units, including those occupied on or after November 1, 1991,” states the official release. “Expanding rent control is a key component of Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan to help more people find an affordable place to call home.”

It’s all about renters

The fundamental planks of the plan are focused on renters. Some analysts claim the rules may discourage development of new rental units, but this has been offset, in part, by other initiatives — grants or help for developers who build low cost housing, availability of previously unavailable provincial land for development, and, of course, a hot condo market which tends to increase rental inventories.

 

 

The main changes proposed are:

  • make rental properties built after November 1, 1991, subject to the same/similar rules to those built before
  • protecting tenants from eviction for the commonly used “my own use” provisions — where a condo/home owner can force an eviction if they claim they are moving in to the home themselves
  • protecting tenants from landlords who charge unauthorized expenses
  • reduce disputes through standard leases
  • prevent above-guideline rent increases if the building has outstanding elevator maintenance orders.

There’s also a proposed amendment to exempt transitional housing providers from the Residential Tenancies Act, allowing them to provide transitional programs longer.

Backgrounder

  1. The proposed rent control amendment would only apply to rent increases after April 20, 2017.
  2. The current Residential Tenancies Act currently does not cover (or exempts any residential buildings occupied on or after November 1, 1991 from rent increase guides.
  3. Over 237,000 units, or about 20 percent of private rental housing in Ontario is impacted by the current post-1991 rule.
  4. 1.2 million rental households (approx) in Ontario.
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