A new user-generated website has launched to track “renovictions” and above-guideline rent increases in Toronto rentals.
RenovictionsTO allows you to anonymously report landlords who have evicted tenants for major renovations – a practice commonly referred to as renovictions – or have increased rents above the annual provincially-mandated percentage. These reports are displayed on a map of Toronto and are also searchable by address or landlord’s name.
“As we analyze our landlord data we’ll work to make it easier for tenants to find out if their landlord has been renovicting people or applying for [above-guideline increases] and to locate other buildings owned by their landlord,” the website states.
In Toronto’s rental housing market, renovictions can be used by landlords to evict tenants. A landlord is legally allowed to evict a tenant if they claim the unit or building is in need of major renovations that require the tenant to move out. Although the tenant has the right of first refusal when the renovations are complete, there is no legal mechanism to track if the landlord offers the unit back to the original tenant.
Some landlords in Toronto also claim they need to complete renovations, but instead make superficial changes and then rent the unit out to a new tenant for a much higher amount. Ontario does not have vacancy rent control, which means that once a unit is unoccupied, the landlord can set the rent to any amount for the new tenant.
Issuing rent increases above the provincial guideline – in 2020, it’s 2.2 per cent – is another tactic some landlords use to force out long-standing tenants. The landlord can cite reasons like significant repairs or maintenance issues to justify the rent increases.
In NOW’s inaugural Renters Survey, which was released in April, 20 per cent of tenants who were evicted or forced to move out by their landlord said the reason was due to major renovations. More than 31 per cent of tenants said their landlord has applied to an above-guideline rent increase.
RenovictionTO, which is completely volunteer-run, also features a tracker that allows you to search for a landlord by name and find reports associated with them.
To report your own case, you must fill out the type of issue and address, as well as include additional info like the landlord’s name, the date the issue began, any other actions by the landlord and any actions completed by tenants.
The website also highlights corporate property owners like Starlight Investments, CAPREIT, Realstar and Centurion who have applied for numerous rent increases from January 2018 to March 2020.
“RenovictionsTO is inspired by efforts to document housing crises and support tenants in other cities, and by the tenants fighting for housing rights here in the city,” the website states.