Metro News: Ontario launches public consultation on tenancy act changes

Posted April 29, 2016

Since potential changes to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act were made public, tenants’ rights groups say their phones have been ringing off the hook.
 
“We’ve been flooded with calls from people in Toronto and around the province,” said Geordie Dent with the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations. “People are just furious.”
 
“The phones in our offices haven’t stopped,” echoed Marva Burnett, president of the social justice group ACORN Canada. “Most ACORN members are tenants and they’re really upset”
 
The provincial Liberals are mulling reforms that would allow landlords to more easily evict tenants for smoking or owning pets. Other proposals include changes to how eviction appeals and hearings are handled and a review of rental increase guidelines.
 
Under existing law, landlords in Ontario cannot evict tenants for owning a pet – unless the animal is causing damage or a severe allergic reaction. Dent said the possibility that those protections could be loosened has renters on edge.
 
“A tenant from Woodbine contacted me out of the blue and asked what would happen to their pets. They wanted to know if they were going to get evicted,” he said.
 
Dent said he and his colleagues were initially told they had until April 22 to offer feedback on the changes. However, officials with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing told Metro public consultation was always planned and will continue until June 30.
 
“That’s really positive,” Dent said. “It will force them to actually listen to people in these issues.”
 
The government says the changes are necessary to encourage more small landlords to rent out unused space in their homes, thereby increasing supply in areas – like Toronto – where vacancy rates are low.
 
However, Dent questioned whether the policies will have the desired effect.
 
“I asked the government for any evidence showing a single rental unit will get built as a result of these changes and they never presented me with a shred of anything,” he said.
 
The United Nations recently chided Canada for a rising rate of evictions related to unpaid rent. The U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on Canada to implement a national housing strategy that would protect tenants from “forced evictions and homelessness.”
 
Have your say
 
Information about the proposed changes can be found on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website and public feedback can be sent by email to residential.tenancies@ontario.ca.
 
 
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Article by Luke Simcoe for Metro News Toronto