Tenants at two west-end Toronto condos see rent double
Ontario puts a cap on rent increases for units that came into use prior to Oct. 31, 1991, but there is no limit on rent increase amounts for more modern residences.
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Tenants of at least two west-end condo buildings will see their rents double this year, in a move that critics say proves change is needed in Ontario’s rent control laws.
Kim Zasadny, 25, has lived with a roommate at 170 Sudbury St. for about a year and a half.
Over the weekend, she received a letter from KSV Advisory, a company that restructures insolvent businesses, informing her that rent would increase from $1,650 to $3,300, starting July 1.
“It basically says I have two options, either to pay $3,300 a month for a one and a half bedroom that I live in ... or I have to move out July 1,” said Zasadny.
“I didn’t even know that was legally possible.”
Ontario puts a cap on rent increases for units that came into use prior to Oct. 31, 1991.
But there is no limit on rent increase amounts for more modern residences.
“There are two classes of tenants in Toronto, those who live in buildings that were built in 1991 or before have guidelines and rent control,” said Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow, who supports expanding rent control.
“These rules need to change because they are padding the pockets of landlords while pushing renters out of their homes.”
On Friday, AJ Merrick, who rents a condo unit at 38 Joe Shuster Way, posted the letter he received from KSV, to Facebook.
Merrick, like Zasadny, will have his rent doubled on July 1.
“I wish I could stay but I have to move out,” Merrick said. “It’s way too much money.”
Merrick and Zasadny were renting their units from Urbancorp residential developers.
In April 2016, Urbancorp announced it would be restructuring under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In a press release at the time, Urbancorp said KSV was its trustee.
Since then, hundreds of disappointed home buyers have been stuck in limbo. In August, a court granted home purchasers stranded by the insolvency of Urbancorp the right to be legally represented in discussions with the companies buying four of the homebuilder’s sites that are being sold off in a restructuring.
There are reports that residents of one other building where Urbancorp owns units have received rent increase letters.
KSV executives did not respond to calls or emails by the Star.
In March, the provincial NDP tabled a private member’s bill at Queen’s Park that would expand rent control to all properties, regardless of age.
Ontario’s Liberal government says it is committed to reforming rent control.
Laura Gallant, spokesperson for Ontario Minister of Housing Chris Ballard, said it was “unacceptable” that many Ontarians are faced with dramatically rising housing costs.
“That’s why we are already developing a plan to address unfair rises in rental costs by delivering substantive rent control reform in Ontario as part of an ongoing review of the Residential Tenancies Act,” she added.
So far, said Gallant, the province has steps to make renting and home ownership more affordable, including freezing municipal property tax on apartment buildings and doubling the maximum tax refund for first-time home buyers.
“We know there’s more we need to do,” said Gallant. “We will be sharing details on our plan for substantive rent control reform shortly.”
Kenneth Hale, director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, said he would like to see the same rent control measures that exist for older units applied to all rentals.
Rent increases on units occupied prior to Oct. 31, 1991, are tied to annual changes in the Consumer Price Index. This year, increases on those older units are capped at 1.5 per cent.
“That’s an objective measure,” said Hale. “It makes sure that landlords’ increases in hydro and fuel prices and various other (costs) eventually get taken into account.”