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Opening with the case of a couple asked to leave their apartment  so a family member of the landlord could move in, the article goes on to discuss the option available to many small landlords in Ontario to evict tenants for the Landlord’s personal use. The Landlord and Tenant Board ruled on over 1500 such cases last year.

Karen Andrews, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, says that the provision wasn’t used very much in the past, but that a growing number of long-term tenants have recently been told that their landlord plans to move in a spouse, child or caregiver. “Certain neighbourhoods are plagued with this ‚Äì Little Italy, the Beach, Trinity Bellwoods,” she says.

In many cases the requests are legitimate, and are a trickle-down effect of the runaway housing market. Many homeowners are choosing to maximize the space they already have rather than face bidding wars and the cost of moving. This can mean putting an office or playroom in a former basement apartment.

In other cases, landlords may use this manoeuvre to make false claims and induce tenants to leave. One contributing factor is that the vast majority of new rental units built in the city over the past two decades are in condominiums. In 1998, the then-Progressive Conservative provincial government decided that new rental units would not be subject to the same rent controls as older buildings. This creates a disparity when new condos and investors show up in previously unappealing neighbourhoods.

For many landlords a convenient work-around is to issue longterm tenants with eviction notices (claiming the landlord wishes to move in), only to subsequently re-rent the apartment to a new tenant at a significantly higher rent.

Andrews says that standardizing rent control rules across the province is the first step toward eliminating false eviction claims. Until that happens, “anyone who is paying below what the market will bear is vulnerable.”

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October 28, 2014

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