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Ottawa advocates say new rent-control measures are not enough

And landlord groups say province's controls will damage market while hurting tenants and property owners.

Groups representing landlords say changes to rent controls will only hurt renters in the end.

Metro File

Groups representing landlords say changes to rent controls will only hurt renters in the end.

Advocates for tenants say the provincial government didn’t go far enough with expanded rent controls, while landlord groups charge that the new measures will kill the rental market.

The changes, which the Liberal Ontario government announced on Thursday, include limiting annual rent increases to around two per cent for buildings built after 1991. The existing rent-control rules applied only to pre-1991 buildings.

Stephenie Graham, co-chair of the Ottawa Vanier chapter of Acorn, which advocates for low-income families, said that tenants got a little bit more protection but that the government still isn’t doing enough.

“It’s good news for the tenants that are now being protected, but we would like to see vacancy controls too,” she said.

When tenants move out, landlords will still be able to increase rents to whatever level they want. Graham said that should be controlled.

David Lyman, vice president of the Eastern Ontario Landlords Organization, said rent controls hurt everyone in the end, because landlord and developers don’t build new rental units.

“It will stop individuals from renting out units. It will stop developers from building new units.”

He said some landlords will get a tenant into a rental unit at a price that doesn’t even cover costs at first, but they won’t do that if they know they will be locked in.

“If they know the rent they charge now is not going to set the rent forever, they will be more open to rent at a lower amount.”

The province also introduced a foreign speculators tax of 15 per cent aimed at slowing the runaway escalation in housing prices in the GTA.

Broker Paul Rushforth said some of that foreign investment will now come to Ottawa.

“We will not only see people moving from these expensive cities, but these foreign dollars coming into the Ottawa area as well,” he said.

He said first-time buyers will still be able to get into the market here, but already strong 

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