McDonell Speaks for Tenants

April 19, 2012

Jim McDonell, MPP rose to speak in the Assembly on Monday and Tuesday on Bill 19, a proposed law that would amend the Residential Tenancies Act. If passed, it would set the maximum rent increase guideline at 2.5% annually.

“This Bill plays politics with vulnerable tenants” – McDonell said. The actual average rent increase of 1.7% over the past five years is well below the proposed 2.5% increase in the bill. The MPP continued: “The cost of living in Ontario is rising for reasons other than McGuinty’s claim of landlords’ greed. The Bill is just
another ploy to draw attention away from the real reasons behind the increases: energy costs that are up over 93% since McGuinty took office and escalating property taxes due to over-regulation and shrinking provincial funding”.

Under present rules, landlords can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to increase the rent they charge  by more than the stated guideline. Jim McDonell, MPP commented: “A ceiling will simply impose the cost and procedure of the application upon more landlords. Those landlords that include any services in the rent, such as hydro, will be hit hardest and will be forced to stop offering anything beyond the use of the property itself. On paper, the Government will claim rent growth has been slowed because of the low guideline, but it’s just fiction. Many of my constituents are struggling today to pay the costs associated with their property.  Rent itself isn’t high on their list of complaints.”

The guideline only applies to properties built before 1991. The MPP cautioned: “The housing stock, particularly in Toronto, is aging, with very few new private-sector developments for rent being built. In Toronto, rental units averaged 5% of all developments between 1997 and 2005. The old units will need extensive repairs and maintenance and property upkeep costs are escalating. This Bill will not address the problem it claims to tackle, and is a negative message to landlords. If landlords are driven to give up and sell, low-income renters will be forced either into newer properties exempt from the guideline or into social
housing. Bill 19 solves no problem and creates several more”.

The debate on Second Reading of Bill 19 continues. If passed, the Bill will be examined by a Committee where stakeholders and everyday Ontarians may express their views or submit written briefs.