Ontario: Tenant "Protection" Act: OCAP report Executive Summary

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 17 Apr 1998 09:13:34 -0700 (PDT)


FWD
                         The Tenant "Protection" Act:
                            an Attack on Tenants
                         ****************************

By the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
April 3, 1998


Executive Summary


Today, behind us at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, there is
"Springfest! '98 Multi-Unit Expo, A Special Event Exclusively for
1,500 Property Managers, Building Owners, Developers . . ."

Some of the seminars going on include, "The New Tenant Protection
Act: Understanding the Implications ...," about such issues as the
new eviction procedures, "how to achieve maximum rents with
prospective and new tenants," and "how to assign, sublet or create
a new tenancy"; the seminar "Renting 2000," which covers
"increasing a building's cash flow and bottom line," and "how to
sell a rent increase to your tenants"; and the seminar "The Arrival
of REIT's to the Canadian Apartment Market," which is about Real
Estate Investment Trusts and how they turn apartment buildings into
easily tradable commodities (ie. "the Securitization of Rental
Housing").

The Tenant Protection Act has been passed into law and was expected
to come into effect in April, but now the government is saying May.

The Tenant Protection Act (TPA,) is a brutal attack on the 4
million tenants in Ontario, 1/3 of whom are on social assistance.

The TPA:

        * repeals the Landlord and Tenant Act;

        * repeals the Rent Control Act;

        * repeals the Rental Housing Protection Act;

        * ends the Residents Right's Act (which protected
          people in care facilities); and

        * amends the Human Rights Code.

Low income tenants: seniors, the disabled, the working poor, single
parent families, immigrants and visible minorities will be the most
vulnerable to the changes under this new "protection" act, that
eliminates many protections they were previously covered by.

Some of the changes being brought in by the Harris government's
Tenant "Protection" Act, include:


        * Bringing in Vacancy Decontrol.  When a tenant moves out the
          landlord is allowed to charge anything they want to the new
          tenant; there will be no regulatory limits on how high the
          rent to the new tenant can be.  This sets up an extremely
          adversarial situation between all sitting tenants and
          landlords.  Landlords will want to get tenants out of
          apartments so they can jack-up the rents, and tenants will
          desperately want to hang onto their apartments so that they
          will not face a much higher Vacancy Decontrolled price.

        * Greatly relaxed Rent Controls for those who remain in their
          apartments, including loopholes such as no ceiling
          whatsoever on financing cost or on extraordinary operating
          costs.  This will lead to Real Estate speculation in rental
          housing that can be fully passed onto the tenants.  If an
          investor decides to pay a ridiculously high price for a
          building tenants will pay for his mistake; after all tenants
          have to live somewhere.

        * Fast-track eviction procedures - now a tenant who has
          reasons to dispute a landlord's application for an eviction,
          will only have 5 days from the time a landlord claims to
          have informed the tenant about the application, to file a
          written dispute.  If the tenant doesn't make the
          ridiculously short deadline, they are assumed to not be
          disputing the landlord's claims.

        * With the repeal of the Rental Housing Protection Act,
          communities will lose by-law control over the conversion or
          demolition of rental housing and care homes.

        * There are new much shorter time restriction on tenants
          filing against landlords.  It often takes a lot of time
          before a tenant realizes and can prove that a landlord is
          charging them an illegal rent or made them pay an illegal
          charge.  When a tenant does find out it often has been going
          on for years.  Now a tenant must file within a year of the
          end of the event, and can only get back that which is owed
          to them over the past 12 months.

        * Early termination of leases are permitted for landlords if
          they are demolishing or converting a building, or if they
          claim they need the apartment vacant to do renovations.

        * The end of the "costs no longer borne" provisions, means
          that under the government's Tenant "Protection" Act, that
          once your rent increase (such as for a new stove or balcony
          repairs) have completely paid off that item for the landlord
          you continue to pay for them . . . forever.

        * Landlords will now be able to refuse you a lease purely on
          the grounds that they think you don't have enough income,
          even if you have a great credit and tenancy record, which
          could be used to disguise illegal discrimination really
          based on other grounds such as age, marital status or race.


The misnamed Tenant "Protection" Act is an attack on the supply of
affordable housing, and will be devastating to the poorest in
Ontario.  It will affect all tenants as well as those in care
homes, but the poor will feel the greatest impact, especially
seniors on fixed incomes, the disabled, working-poor families,
single parent families, youths and visible minorities.

We at the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, expect skyrocketing
rents, particularly for the most affordable units.  Vacancy rates
that are as low at 0.8% in the Toronto Census Metropolitan area
will drop as rental housing is demolished and converted to
condominiums.  Separate vacancy rates are not kept based upon the
affordability/price of the units, but the vacancy rate for the most
affordable units will drop to close to zero in the Toronto area.

Evictions will soar with the "protection" act's fast track eviction
system, where people have a ridiculously short 5 days to respond.
People away, maybe because of a hospital stay or to visit out-of-town
relatives, will come back to find they have lost their homes.
Landlords will have a huge financial incentive to file unwarranted
evictions so that they will be able to charge anything they like on
the apartment.  And there have always been other indirect ways to
improperly force people out, and unscrupulous landlords will use
them.  The most vulnerable will be the most victimized.

Others will be economically evicted.  The Tenant Protection Act
creates many loopholes such as ending the "costs no longer borne"
provisions, and ending above guideline rent increase ceilings for
some items, which will be fully exploited by landlords.  The
"securitization of rental housing," where housing is only a
commodity, will bring in foreign and domestic speculators who don't
create housing, they merely speculate in it to drive up the prices,
but at the expense of the 4 million tenants of Ontario.  Those
tenants who can no longer afford their skyrocketing rents will be
out of luck and there will be few if any options available to them.

Our society's already unconscionable levels of homelessness will
multiply as people are evicted and our affordable rental housing is
demolished or converted.  There will be greater demands on our
social services and hostel systems which will cost all taxpayers.

After the first year, when half to three-quarters of a BILLION
dollars annually is siphoned off by landlords in higher rents,
malnutrition in tenant families will increase, and communities
including local businesses will feel the devastating effects.

This government's policies, which are based upon ideology rather
than facts and logic, will wreak a huge toll in human costs on the
4 million tenants of Ontario through increased poverty,
homelessness, the breaking up of families, constant fear of rising
rents or eviction, poorer health and even deaths.

END FORWARD

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