Ontario rent freeze could mean more evictions, critics say – Toronto


As the Ontario government prepares to freeze most residential rents in the province to help those suffering financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, critics of the plan say it does not go far enough .On Friday, the PC government of Ontario announced plans to freeze rents on rental-controlled residential properties until 2021, promising to introduce relevant legislation in the fall.

“I will introduce a bill this fall to freeze rents – so the vast majority of families don’t see a rent increase next year,” Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said on Twitter .

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Cole Webber, a community legal worker and tenant advocate, told Global News that stopping rent increases could actually lead to more evictions.

“In Ontario, there are no rent controls on vacant homes, so landlords have a financial incentive to evict existing tenants so they can increase the rent without limit on vacant homes,” did he declare.

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It’s a concern on the mind of Vinson Salim, who stopped paying rent on his apartment in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood in April after being made redundant.

His landlord gave him notice shortly after to pay or move, he said. Having been homeless before, he said the situation evokes difficult memories.

“It’s kind of like a reminder of what my life is going to be after,” he says.

Suze Morrison, Ontario’s NDP tenant rights critic, said in a statement that the rent freeze was insufficient and that the government should also take action such as a ban on evictions during the pandemic and offer a rent subsidy to those who have lost an income.

“It doesn’t help tenants who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and needed help months ago,” she writes. “Instead of helping these tenants, (Prime Minister) Doug Ford has taken things from bad to worse amid the pandemic with new law to speed up evictions.

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Also critical of the rent freeze, Tony Irwin, president and CEO of the Ontario Federation of Rental Housing Providers, said targeted assistance to tenants who need it most would be most effective.

“This measure – a sort of blanket rent freeze is helping some residents who, frankly, are not in dire straits,” he said.

“They are able to pay their rent. Their circumstances have not changed.

Cole, the community legal worker, said he believes no one should be evicted for unpaid rent during the pandemic.

“Otherwise, we are going to see levels of homelessness and misery unlike anything we have ever seen before,” he said.

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