The Tillsonburg News:
Tenants catch break with lowest hike ever
By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QMI Agency
Ontario renters will catch an election-year break, with the lowest allowable rent hike in the 35-year history of rent control.
Rents will be allowed to rise by only 0.7% in 2011, the maximum without special approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board.
The tiny increase left one industry observer saying the Liberal government is currying favour with tenants in an election year.
"It's political opportunism," said Stuart Henderson, a moderator with the Ontario Landlords Association. " We feel the McGuinty government is trying to protect against a backlash from tenants in Toronto."
But landlords weren't protesting when the shoe was on the other foot. That was when the province allowed yearly increases in the range of 5% in the 1990s, said Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations.
The recession has been very hard on many tenants and unemployment in Toronto, the largest rental market, still hovers at about 10%, he said.
" It's not renting out a movie at Blockbusters - it's people's housing," he said. " Any increase right now during this difficult time is hard for any tenant."
Liberal cabinet minister Jim Bradley stood by the modest allowable increase.
" The McGuinty government is providing real protection for tenants by linking the rent increase guideline to the Ontario Consumer Price Index which prevents routine rent increases above the rate of inflation while ensuring landlords can recover increases in their costs," he said.
Henderson, whose association typically represents property owners with less than five rental units, said the tiny increase has many of the group's members wondering if they can afford to stay in the business.
" We're the ones paying all these new costs - the price of gas, hydro, the HST - and then we kind of get kicked in the stomach with a 0.7% increase," he said. " It leaves the worst landlords in the market, people who are renting out firetraps, illegal places."