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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Protesters gather outside Doug Ford's house to demand protection for renters

It's been more than two weeks since Premier Doug Ford announced that he would be introducing legislation to freeze rents on rent-controlled apartments across the province in 2021, but Ontario tenants have a number of demands they say will help ensure the move actually protects renters.

Members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) gathered outside Premier Ford's home Tuesday morning to express these demands, and they held signs with messages like "FREEZE AGIS" and "FREEZE ALL LOOPHOLES" while attempting to block his driveway.

"For Doug Ford's proposed Rent Freeze to work, it needs to close all the loopholes that the big landlord lobby has successfully won in the last few decades," reads a statement from ACORN

"Tenants continue to receive notice of rent increases AND Above Guideline Rent Increases(AGI) are common across the province. And with the housing market continuing to surge when tenants move out, landlords just double the rent, creating an incentive to landlords to push out long standing tenants!"

AGIs are when landlords apply to charge rent increases of 3 per cent a year over three years due to incurred expenses, often in an effort to transfer costs to tenants for things such as repairs, building maintenance, or simply to make more money.

To ensure the premier's rent freeze is comprehensive and effective, ACORN members say the legislation must include a freeze on AGIs and a rent freeze on all rental units (not just ones built before 2018), as well as getting rid of "vacancy decontrol" —  which is a regulation that allows landlords to increase rents on vacant units.

"To stop the growing number of people living on the streets and to ease the pressure on the shelter system and social service sector, the government also needs to bring back the Eviction Moratorium and create a Rent Relief Program," reads the statement.

The group also notes that major corporate landlords like CAPREIT have reported profit increases during the pandemic of 64.5 per cent or $281 million, partially thanks to rent increases and AGIs.

"These growing Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs like CAPREIT are making millions of dollars off renters at a time when tenants don't even have enough to pay for food, medicines, internet and other necessities," says ACORN.

Members are therefore asking Ontario tenants to send a letter to Premier Ford and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark demanding that they pass legislation that mandates no rent increases.

This would include no AGIs during the pandemic, fully implementing rent control, including vacancy control in all rental units, bringing back the eviction moratorium and creating a rent relief program. 

by Mira Miller via blogTO

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