Hundreds of High Park tenants are calling for more rent control after being told a 12% hike
Tenants of a building in Toronto’s High Park neighborhood say they feel overpriced after finding out their rent will rise nearly 12 percent this year and are calling for more rent control.
Ben Scott received notice of the rent increase in October 2022 from his landlord at the Livmore High Park building at 55 Quebec Avenue. He has lived there since January 2021.
“I thought there was a typo on that form. I kinda looked at this and thought is this 1.2 or whatever? No … it’s almost 12 percent that they tried to raise our rent,” Scott said.
Scott, a single parent who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his son, said the sudden and sharp increase in rents has made him consider moving.
“I had to seriously think about changing my place of residence…I happened to get another job that paid me a little bit more, but the profit I get from this job will essentially just cover my rent,” he said.
Scott is one of hundreds of residents who have since formed a tenants’ association to fight steep rent increases at the new modern building, which is about a block from High Park.
CBC Toronto contacted Great Western Life Reality Advisors, the property’s owner, but were told the company had no one available for comment.
The country’s rent increase limits do not apply to buildings
Although specific rent increases vary for each tenant, most who spoke to CBC Toronto said they were told their rent will increase nearly 12 percent, which is about five times the province’s 2023 rent increase guideline of 2.5 percent for that particular year equals , 2023.
The province’s rent increase policy applies to the majority of rented households under the province’s Housing Rent Act — about 1.4 million of them. It does not apply to vacant apartments, shared accommodation, nursing homes or commercial properties.
It also does not apply to buildings that are occupied for the first time after November 15, 2018. The Livmore building that is less than three years old is therefore exempt from the guidelines.
Scott said he was later offered a smaller raise of seven percent, which he accepted.
“I don’t think that’s fair … I was basically forced to take that deal or leave and my son would have to find another school.”
Rental market a “total disaster,” says tenant attorney
Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association, says the situation in Toronto’s rental market is a “complete disaster.”
“All we see is the rampant greed of landlords,” Dent said.
Dent, who has worked as a watchdog for Toronto’s rental market for more than a decade, said he’s heard from renters across the province experiencing similar increases.
“What you keep seeing is that a lot of tenants can’t afford that and end up having to move out,” he said.
“Many of them don’t just move out once every five years. We hear that more and more people have to move every year.”
Ontario is said to be “looking for more ways” to protect renters
A spokesman for Housing Secretary Steve Clark said the province has offered most Ontario renters “stability and predictability” by capping the 2023 rent increase policy at 2.5 percent below inflation.
“Our government is constantly working to increase housing supply across Ontario while delivering on its promise to maintain rent control for existing tenants prior to 2018,” Victoria Podbielski said in a statement to CBC Toronto on Friday.
“We continue to explore other ways to better protect renters across Ontario while making housing more accessible to hardworking Ontarians.”
But High Park tenants say they’re not convinced the province will step in and push for more rent controls.
Resident Shondra Mings says she fears moving out soon if rents continue to rise at this rate. She moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the building in May 2022 and just seven months later was told her rent would increase by 11.5 percent.
Mings said after negotiating with the company, she was also offered a seven percent increase.
“I was obligated to take that because I couldn’t afford the 12 percent,” she said.
Her apartment, which costs $1,950 to rent, will increase to about $2,100 as of May.
“I did my due diligence when I moved in…I knew this was not a rent-controlled building. [The] Company said they wanted to keep people in the community, they wanted to keep the tenants here so the rent increase would be reasonable.”
“In all my years of renting, I’ve never seen rent increases of 11-12%.”