June 27, 2005
Dear Ms. Loponen:
Thank you for your letter of May 24, 2005, regarding the Tenant Protection Act, 1997 (TPA) and specifically the key issues regarding tenants' rights throughout the province.
Our government understands that tenants have faced difficulties under the current law. We have committed to introducing legislation to replace the TPA with fair and effective tenant/landlord protection. We have concluded a province-wide consultation on a very complex issue and we are now taking the time we need to get the legislation right.
Please note that the government's June 2004 amendment to the TPA, which changed how the annual rent-control guideline for 2005 was based solely on the Rent Control Index - a formula that takes into account increases in operating costs faced by landlords - and was set at 1.5 per cent (the lowest amount in Ontario's history of rent controls). The 2006 guideline will be calculated in accordance with the June 2004 amendment.
I am also pleased to inform you that the government has, with support from all parties, appointed Dr. Lilian Ma as Chair of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.
We appreciate your participation in the consultation process as well as hearing from members of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations. Thank you for adding your voice to this discussion.
The Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Tenants in Toronto are deeply disappointed that the Tenant Protection Act remains alive and unchanged. In 2004, our Federation enthusiastically participated in the consultation process. We counted on the promise of Mr. McGuinty of "real protection for tenants at all times", and the promise of Mr. Caplan to fix the Act within one year of taking office. We have given you detailed responses to your questions and our positions on the key issues facing tenants. Tenants are ready for real change and true fairness.
We know the devastating affect that the TPA has had on tenants. This year, we have already worked with over 1400 tenants that are facing Above Guideline Rent Increases based on a claimed jump in utility costs. It has been almost three years since both the Ombudsman of Ontario and the Divisional Court recommended that this part of the law be changed to end the obvious unfairness.
Minister Gerretsen, we are identifying below some changes that are within your immediate authority under section 208 of the Act to change the regulations. You have the Ministerial power to appoint people to the Tribunal.
We are calling on you now to take action:
1. To amend the regulations to stop increases for utility costs.
2. To amend the regulations to reduce the effect of capital cost allowances.
3. To fix the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal by appointing a new Chair. Make a clear statement that fairness to tenants is the new style.
4. To make a strong statement about apartments in disrepair. Tenants have a right to expect value for the money we pay as consumers and taxpayers.
Last April, you called for a time out from the additional 2% bonus which was included in the annual rent guideline. This was to be in effect while you determined the new legislation. We expect the time out to still be in effect. In other words, the 2006 annual guideline will not include the former 2% bonus permitted by the Act.
We are saying FIX IT NOW!
Chair, Federation of Metro Tenants Associations
And all the members of the Board of Directors
Shawn de Swart
P.S. We will be making this letter public on Thursday May 26, 2005
August 19, 2004
Toronto City Hall
Re: Review of Property Tax Ratios
The Federation of Metro Tenants Associations takes this opportunity to place our position on the record with respect to multi-residential tax ratios.
In the City of Toronto, tenants pay property tax at a rate 3.8 times higher than homeowners, including condominium owners. This cost is completely passed on to tenants and adds more than $100 to the monthly rents paid by tenants in Toronto.
Condominiums and co-operatives do not pay this rate.
The effect of the 3.8 ratio is that a tenant living in an apartment with an appraised value of $75,000 is paying much more tax than a condominium owner with an appraised value of $150,000, and more tax than a homeowner in a $260,000 house. On average in Ontario, tenants pay 2.7 times greater than homeowners. In Ottawa, the ratio is approximately 2.0.
The rent law in Ontario requires tax reductions to be passed on to tenants. The current Government has promised to end vacancy decontrol, which should mean that tax savings are permanently beneficial to tenants.
Further, the Ontario Government has taken some positions on this matter that indicates a preference to end the status quo. Municipalities cannot charge the multi-residential rate to new rental buildings and they cannot allow the ratio to increase. In 1997, the Government of Ontario recommended a "range of fairness" that would see the ratio be no higher than 1.1 by the year 2006.
The Fair Tax Commission recommended in 1994 that tenants should pay at the same rate as homeowners.
This year, the City of Ottawa added an extra 1% increase to homeowner taxes, while reducing multi-residential by 1%. This was seen as a step in moving towards equality and this step received the editorial endorsement of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.
The FMTA recognizes that achieving an equitable tax position for tenants to homeowners will require a shift of taxation. At the end of the day, the City will require the same amount of revenue to provide services to all citizens.
Just to get our City to the average (for the Province) would be a start, but not nearly enough. The only fairness is equality. The ultimate solution may be to end municipal property tax as we know it, and shift to a municipal income tax system.
We take no position with respect to the commercial and business tax ratios. We observe that for business, property tax is deductible for income tax purposes. We also observe that lower rents will provide tenants with more disposable income to be spent in local businesses.
We are prepared to work constructively for fair change with the City. It is an issue where tenant and landlord advocates are on the same side. Although we know that in the process of change there will be opposition, we believe that all fair-minded people fundamentally agree with equality.
This inequity must be ended as soon as possible. Although, we are not unsympathetic to low income homeowners, most low income people are tenants. This adds to the regressive nature of property tax.
We urge the City of Toronto to move towards a fair and equal tax system as quickly as possible.
May 6, 2003
The Honourable David Young, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
And Mr. Chisanga Puta-Chekwe, Chair, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal
Re: SARS and Tenants
We are writing to ask that no tenant be evicted if that tenant is a victim of SARS.
Victims include those stricken by the disease or those who lose their jobs or livelihood because of the disease.
Under section 84 of the Act, Tribunal Officers appear to have sufficient legal authority to deny an eviction on the basis of unfairness. However, leadership should come from one or both of you, and a directive should be issued by you.
We note in the variety of measures taken by Governments, that the Federal Government has said that there will be measures to protect against defaulting on mortgages.
We thank you for your immediate attention to this serious issue.
Gail Nyberg and Dan McIntyre
From the Tenant Summit of October 26th 2002, the following statements will be presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations for approval in principle for use in the upcoming year:
The 1998 Tenant Protection Act has failed in its experiment with "market rent control" and the Tribunal has completely failed to protect tenants. A new Act with real rent control and real protection for tenants must become law by the end of 2003.
1. We agree with the City of Toronto in calling for a rent roll back to 1998 levels. Tenants who moved in to their units since 1998 should receive rollbacks of 15% to 25%.
2. After stability in rents, a fair system of rent control must be implemented.
3. There must be a workable, fair "cost no longer borne" provision to the Act.
4. The former Landlord and Tenants Act and the Rental Housing Protection Act should be re-enacted.
5. Housing is a right in every neighbourhood
6. Access to legal rights shall be improved by ensuring that all barriers (including time, travel, language, cost, legal resources, etc) are removed as impediments, and that advocacy resources for tenants are adequately funded.
7. There must be an Ombudsperson for tenants as recommended by tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
8. Property Standards must be strengthened by increasing the number of inspectors, by being pro-active, and by being modeled on the restaurant inspection system.
9. Tenants shall be free to organize or otherwise pursue rights (and legal standing) without fear of harassment and without any interference.
10. . All levels of government need to address housing supply and affordability with a new non-profit housing program.
11. . Homelessness must be ended within five years.
12. . Property tax on rental units must achieve equity with the rates for homeowners by 2006. This shall not be achieved by cutting any social programs or other services, but will require homeowners and businesses to pay their fair share. Alternately, property tax should be scrapped in favour of a municipal income tax as was recently recommended by a City of Ottawa task force.
13. . There should be a "new deal" for municipalities that allows for retaining a portion of sales tax and fuel taxes.
14. . Landlords should be licensed in buildings of three units or more. Every landlord must post a certificate that demonstrates that they have the necessary information on the laws governing residential tenancies.
15. . The Tenant Non-Profit Redevelopment Corporation needs to be revived to allow for the sale of private rentals to the public sector at a fair price.
August 29, 2002
The Honourable Chris Hodgson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Do you not finally agree that it is time to change your Government's Tenant Protection Act?
This week, you will be announcing that you will again be permitting rent increases in 2003 that will far exceed inflation. Rents have already gone beyond any bounds of fairness.
This is the same week that the Divisional Court upheld permanent rent increases based on temporary increases in fuel costs experienced last year. Tenants will have to pay over and over again for this one time spike. The guideline formula compounds the problem.
In media coverage of the 1305 Wilson case, even landlord spokespeople Robert Doumani and Brad Butt could not argue that this was fair. They both suggested that only the Government can change the law.
Every day, we work with tenants who face these increases and the resulting evictions. They are senior citizens, working people, parents, students, and the most vulnerable people in our society. Their housing is becoming more and more unaffordable. Please tell them that you will put an end to rent increases in Ontario. Enough is enough - even for landlords.
Please act now. The law is grossly unfair.