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G. W. Kassa, Guest contributor

One of the biggest tasks facing the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is providing enough affordable rental housing to accommodate the needs of its growing population. We all know food, clothing, and shelter are the necessities for our survival. However, obtaining and maintaining these needs, and juggling between them continues for many renters in the GTA. This is especially relevant given the current economic climate and the tremendous need for rental housing from an increasing population.

An important part of this discussion concerns families who earn incomes above the low-income guidelines, yet close to considered middle or median income. The inability to find affordable rental housing has become the new reality for this group with the rising costs in the rental market and without the wage increases. Hence many renters resort to sharing rental units with several others in need of affordable housing which resulted in heavily overcrowded rental units. Also, this rental housing crisis has been exacerbated by the lack of TCHC subsidized housing which was further compounded by unheeded need for massive repairs and renovations of TCHC rental buildings.

Given the current economic environment of a bubbling real estate market, prices of housing costs are being artificially inflated. Construction companies/developers are less likely or willing to take a contract to build lower-priced housing. To entice and encourage developers, the municipal government has indicated a willingness to provide incentives by offering lands in the form of a lease and waiving property taxes. As a result there has been more emphasis on constructing condos in recent years to satisfy the demand of foreign buyers who make purchases as an investment rather than a home. That is another contributor to the high cost of renting as there is great demand but tight supply.

At the beginning of this year, the Toronto City Council approved a plan to build forty thousand affordable rental units over the next twelve years. The plan provided financial incentives for private developers to construct buildings with these housing components on specific sites provided by the City.  In the first phase of this plan, ten thousand residential units are expected to be constructed, with ‘one-third’ defined as affordable rental housing. The remainder of the units will be market rate rentals or condominiums.  This plan is a step in the right direction, however it doesn’t meet the demands for reasonable rentals for those unable to afford high rents.

Defined affordable rental housing should be increased to ‘one-half’ instead of the ‘one-third’ requirement goal. Furthermore, since the first phase plan includes sites close to subway lines, most or all these units should fall under the lower-priced criteria. That would be a major step in meeting this economical supply housing challenge. An additional benefit will be reduced travel times for workers to get to their place of employment.

There is still hope if we continue to engage with Toronto City Council and push for the changes that were approved

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NOTE – Refer to these links for more detailed information on the housing crisis:

Toronto council approves plan to build up to 3,700 affordable rental units on City-owned lands
https://globalnews.ca/news/4904971/housing-toronto-council-meeting/

Mayor John Tory unveils 3-point plan for building affordable housing
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/john-tory-affordable-housing-promise-1.4876659

and

DOCUMENTARY – PUSH – YOU CAN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
(An investigation about how global finance is fuelling the housing crisis)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/129924971/push-you-cant-live-here-anymore

 

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Refer to this link for full details:

The Ontario government has set the 2019 Annual Rent Increase Guideline at  1.8%. The guideline increase of 1.8% for 2019 is the maximum a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent without approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board. This applies to most sitting tenants in private residential rental units covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.  Rents charged to new tenants are at the discretion of the landlord.

The 2019 guideline increase takes effect from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019. As noted above, landlords cannot increase rent for sitting tenants above the 1.8% guideline without seeking approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board. This 2019 guideline increase of 1.8 is unchanged from the rent increase for 2018. It is based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation calculated monthly by Statistics Canada.

If the landlord intends to implement an Above Guideline Increase the landlord is required to abide by the regulations of the Landlord and Tenant Board and file an application with Landlord and Tenant Board for an Above Guideline Increase. Refer to this link:

http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/2019%20Rent%20Increase%20Guideline%20(EN).html

Detailed information on the 2019 Annual Rent Increased Guideline is available at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing link:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/rent-increase-guideline

FEDERATION OF METRO TENANTS ASSOCIATION (FMTA) 44nd Annual General Meeting

Join the FMTA for our 44nd Annual General Meeting on Saturday June 23rd, 2018 at 10am.

All active members of the FMTA are welcome to attend and vote at the AGM, while tenant advocates are able to register to attend as observers!

Location: 120 Carlton St – Party Room. Corner of Jarvis and Carlton St. Closest station is College Subway

Refer to this FMTA link for more details:
https://www.torontotenants.org/news/fmta-2018-annual-general-meeting

RALLY FOR REAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND INCLUSIONARY ZONING!

ACORN members have been fighting for Inclusionary Zoning for years!  The Provincial Housing Minister has just come out with rules restricting cities from demanding REAL Affordable Housing from new developments and condos.

Join ACORN members at the Provincial Housing Minister’s Office and stand up for REAL Affordable Housing in new developments!

When:   Tuesday, January 23rd  at 11:00 AM  through  1:00 PM
Where:  Provincial Housing Minister’s Office –  777 Bay St. Toronto, ON (Bay & College)

ONLINE PETITION
Here Is An Online Petition That Will Send Emails To MPP’s Saying They Need To Redo Inclusionary Zoning!

Tell your MPP at this link – https://www.acorncanada.org/take-action/tell-your-mpp-we-need-affordable-housing

Other sharing links:
Here is the action info on Facebook for sharing:
https://www.facebook.com/events/172982513458867/

On the ACORN webpage:
https://www.acorncanada.org/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D1359%26reset%3D1

The sub-meter industry has been collaborating with landlords to put a system in place where tenants are charged separately for electricity.  Landlords have allowed sub-meter companies to install sub-meters in rental units not only in new buildings but also for older buildings with sitting tenants.

Sub-meter companies are making huge profits from the collaboration. For example, according to a report in the CNW, the company Wyse Meter Solutions has made tremendous profits:

Wyse made the 2016 PROFIT 500 list with five-year revenue growth of 2,604%.
http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/wyse-meter-solutions-inc-ranks-as-29th-fastest-growing-company-in-canada-593534801.html

Legislation by the Government of Ontario allows landlords to install sub-meter in rental units in existing and new buildings. The result is that lease conditions are changing related to electricity use. Landlords can require tenants pay for electricity separately from their rental cost based on the new rental contract. Refer to the Government of Ontario link for clarification on how you may be affected by the new legislation:

Tenants Guide to Suite Meters
http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page9087.aspx

Another section of the regulation provides clarification about tenant consent:
http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page9050.aspx

Quote:
      If a landlord chooses to install a suite meter, tenants will have the
      choice of paying for their electricity consumption separately from
      rent. If electricity is currently included in a tenant’s rent, landlords
      must lower the rent if a tenant chooses to pay for their own electricity
      using a suite meter.

CAUTION – Read your lease carefully and make sure you do NOT sign any contract that states you will pay separately for electricity when renewing your lease. You do not have to pay for electricity because this cost is included in your lease.  Refer to this this link below:
Appendix A –   Your landlord wants you to start paying for electricity – Be Careful!
http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/cd/bgrd/backgroundfile-18103.pdf

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NOTE:
For more details you can check our earlier posts on the subject of Sub-Meter at these links:
Smart Sub-meters . . . Getting It Right!
https://eastyorktenantsgroup.com/2009/09/08/sub-meters-getting-it-right/

SMART SUB-METERS . . .
https://eastyorktenantsgroup.com/2009/08/29/smart-sub-meters/

East York tenants in Park Vista have successfully challenged an attempt by their landlord to impose an air conditioning fee.

CAPREIT, which had 2016 operating revenue of $596.8 million and 2016 net operating income of $366.9 million, tried to shake down tenants (including many seniors on a fixed income) for a seasonal fee of $125 per air conditioning unit.

The Park Vista tenants’ association was in place and they were able to organize, mobilize and fight back (along with the help of the media and the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations).

Refer to these attachments:
1- Capreit AC noticepdf
2-Park Vista Air Conditioning Notice
3- Capreit AC Follow-up Response

Links to media coverage are below:

Tenants at East York apartment building ‘ecstatic’ after landlord ditches air conditioning fees
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ toronto/east-york-apartment-ai r-conditioning-1.4234743

East York Tenants Battle Over Air Conditioning
http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/more /consumer-alert

Given the challenges tenants face, local tenant advocates are meeting to discuss common issues that might help activists learn from one another. A tenant advocate in the Broadview/Mortimer (12 Bater Tenant Association) area is arranging to get some local tenant advocates together for an informal, in-person ‘fun night’ meeting at Whistlers Restaurant. The goal of ‘fun night’ is to have neighbours get together with their local tenant association in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. It will also be an opportunity to network and focus on how to improve tenant education and familiarize tenants with their rights.

Date & Time: Thursday,  August 24th from 7:00 to 10:00 pm
Location: Whistler’s Pub,  995 Broadview Ave, East York, ON M4K 2S1

Contact:  mailto:tentsinaction@gmail.com

The Ontario government has capped the 2018 Annual Rent Increase Guideline at 1.8%. The increase of 1.8% for 2018 is the maximum a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board. Landlords cannot increase rent for sitting tenants above the 1.8% guideline without seeking approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board. More information is available at this Ontario Government link:

https://news.ontario.ca/mho/en/2017/06/ontario-capping-rent-increases-for-tenants-in-2018.html

This 2018 guideline increase of 1.8% is higher than the 1.5% rent increase for 2017. It is based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation calculated monthly by Statistics Canada.

The 2018 guideline increase takes effect from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.

If the landlord intends to implement an Above Guideline Increase the landlord is required to abide by the regulations of the Landlord and Tenant Board and file an application with Landlord and Tenant Board for an Above Guideline Increase. Refer to the Brochure: 2018 Rent Increase Guideline published by the Landlord and Tenant Board (Social Justice Tribunal) for more details:

http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/documents/ltb/Brochures/2018%20Rent%20Increase%20Guideline%20(EN).html

NOTE: The guideline is not applicable to: Vacant residential units, Social housing units, Nursing homes or Commercial property

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