Archive for the ‘Landlord and Tenant News’ Category

MLA Claims He Was ‘In Tears’ Trying to Find Affordable Housing

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

January 18, 2012

Surry Fleetwood NDP MLA Jagrup Brar issued a ‘Welfare Challenge’ to himself.  He’s a week into trying to rent an apartment and pay for food on a budget of $610 a month.  The budget is the same a single adult receives on welfare.

Brar said he was “in tears” last week over the challenge.  According to Brar, “Living in poverty is hard and demoralizing. Looking for food makes your body tired.”

He took part in this challenge to raise awareness for “Raise the Rates.”  Raise the Rates is a coalition of social groups that demands the B.C. government quickly raise welfare payments.

On Wednesday Brar went out looking for a place to stay assisted by a worker from Hyland House, a Surrey-based organization that runs a homeless shelter.

Brar had put together a list of possible rooms he could rent for the $375 government housing allowance, but was shocked at what he found.

“The first house had four little rooms and was a dirty and filthy looking old house,” said Brar.

He said the room available for rent had no laundry facilities and the landlord wanted $450 a month “for a place no one would want to stay for one day.”

The next home he visited was similar.

The whole experience was both heartbreaking and shocking, Brar said.  “This was a room like a closet. It was three feet wide, seven feet long with a single bed in it occupying the whole space,” he said.

“You could barely step in and go straight to your bed. There was no window. The landlord told me the person who was going to occupy that room was a patient coming from hospital after an operation.

Brar continued: “It was unimaginable for me to hear that people have to chose to live in those kinds of places, tears started falling out of my eyes,” he said.

The room rented for $300/ month.

“The person who showed me that closet-like room owns 50 rooms. She is making $20,000 a month on the backs of the poor of B.C. with the help of the ministry. It’s unacceptable and immoral,” Brar said.

At last, he settled for staying in an illegal rooming house on 136A Street that was clean and has 7 other tenants. The spacious room rents for $400 a month, but he will only pay for the part of the month he will stay there.

“This is like a seven-star hotel compared to the other places,” he said.

On Wednesday, he went shopping for food, spending $32.87 for a variety of packaged foods including some milk, fruit, vegetables, bread and peanut butter.

Brar said he would continue his “Challenge” and stay in the Surrey rooming house for 16 days and then look for a place to live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

After other expenses, Brar calculates he has about $70 left for food for the rest of the month.

 

 

British Columbia landlords can raise the rent by 4.3% in 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

January 1st, 2012

 

Happy New Year!

BC landlords take note:  A Landlord can increase rent each year up to (but not greater than) the percentage equal to the inflation rate plus two percent. The allowable rent increase for each calendar year is available on the Residential Tenancy Branch’s website.  For 2011, the allowable rent increase is 2.3%. For 2012, it is 4.3%. 

Here’s how it can be calculated.  Example:

Your current rent:

$500.00

2012 allowable increase (4.3%)

$21.50

Your new rent

$521.50

If a Landlord charges an amount higher than the allowable amount, the Tenant does not have to pay the excess rent unless the Tenant has been served with a dispute resolution officer’s order allowing the rent increase.

Here are the Rules:

The notice must be served three full months before the rent increase takes effect. For example, Janet moved into an apartment on June 1, 2010 and pays rent of $700.00 per month.  Her Landlord serves her a Notice of Rent Increase by mail on February 20, 2011 to pay rent of $716.10 beginning June 1, 2011.  This rent increase was done in accordance with the Act.

If a Tenant has paid an increase that was higher than the permitted amount, the Tenant may deduct the amount from future rent.

To raise the rent above the permitted amount, the Landlord must have either the Tenant’s written agreement or an Residential Tenancy Branch order.  The Landlord still has the burden of proving any claim for a rent increase of an amount that is greater than the prescribed amount. The Tenant(s) will have an opportunity to appear at the hearing of the application, question the Landlord’s evidence, and submit their own evidence.

With rising costs and potential upcoming political pressures on the horizon, it could be a good idea for British Columbia landlords to make sure they raise rents in 2012!

 

 


Toronto Star: Landlords warned not to discriminate in rental ads – June 2011

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Jane Schweitzer says writing an ad for an available rental property has become a minefield thanks to the glaring eye of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).Schweitzer, a Hamilton resident who owns several rental properties and Assistant Moderator of the Ontario Landlords Association forums, says the commission’s recent campaign to address “discriminatory housing advertisements” goes too far. (more…)

Friday, June 17th, 2011

MPP issues bill to address rent control exemption
June 17, 2011
by Jennifer Brown

After receiving a complaint from a constituent about a steep rent hike, Norm Sterling introduced a Bill late last month to address a little known part of the Residential Tenancies Act that prevents rent control on properties constructed after 1991.

“Overall, the tenant protection legislation introduced by the Harris government is working well because it strikes a balance between protecting most tenants from unexpected increases while allowing landlords to increase the rent when one tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in,” says Sterling, MPP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills. “There is currently an exception for new units occupied after 1991. My bill (Bill 204), if passed, would eliminate that exemption.”

The issue came to Sterling’s attention when a constituent living in Almonte, about 50 kilometres west of Ottawa, complained about a 25 per cent increase levied by her landlord. She was shocked to learn that because her building was completed and first occupied after Nov. 1, 1991, her landlord could demand any increase, regardless of the maximum increase set in the Rent Increase Guideline.

“A constituent came in to see me because she had received the rent increase and exhausted the various appeal mechanisms in place to deal with it. It means her rent was going up about $200 a month,” says Sterling.

The exemption was originally introduced in the early 1990s by the then Bob Rae NDP government as a way to encourage the construction of new rental housing.

The Rent Increase Guideline, as set out by the Ontario government has been low over the last few years; for 2011 it’s .7 per cent. The guideline is the maximum a landlord can increase rent for most residential units without having to get approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board. The guideline was designed to take into account increases in landlords’ building maintenance and operating costs, but over the years, many landlords and associations who represent them claim the increases have not even come close to meeting rising costs. In 2010, the guideline was 2.1 per cent and in 2009, 1.8 per cent.

Sterling says with the proliferation of condo developments in the province, especially the Toronto area, and with more interest rates allowing for greater numbers of homeowners in the province, the exemption provision should no longer be required.

“We have a huge number of new condos . . . and there are high vacancy rates in some areas. Due to higher vacancy rates . . . rent increases in these new rental units have generally been modest, therefore this has not risen as an issue until now.”

However, stats from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) indicate vacancy rates are going down, dropping from 3.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent over the past year in Ontario.

“Market forces have prevented landlords from raising rents in general,” says Stuart Henderson of the Ontario Landlord Association (OLA).

Some question how far Sterling’s bill will go, especially since Queen’s Park is not currently sitting. Also, Sterling, a 34-year veteran of Ontario politics and a long-time Tory MPP and former cabinet minister, lost a nomination battle in his riding and was bounced as an Ottawa-area candidate for his party in the fall election. He lost to Jack MacLaren, a former director of the Ontario Landowners Association. Sterling says he is retiring from politics and not running in October.

However, he wants to do what he can to give the issue “more profile.”

“This woman had lived there for 15 years. She used to volunteer to care of things around the property and now she fears the landlord is using the rent spike as a method of eviction,” he says.

He doesn’t believe the current Landlord Tenant Act needs to be overhauled, as the NDP have suggested. They tabled their own bills to try and gain greater rights for tenants.

“I think the existing Landlord Tenant Act is a perfect balance between tenants rights and landlord rights,” he says. “We can’t allow the free reign of landlords — it’s why I support some form of rent controls.”

The landlords and property management companies who are knowledgeable about the ability to increase rent above the rent guideline say they don’t use the loophole because it would chase away good tenants and price their units out of the market.

“While the exemption isn’t being used by a vast majority of landlords, having it leads to confidence in investors that if they need to, they can protect their investments by raising rents with proper notice,” says Henderson.

There is already a lack of confidence in becoming a landlord in Ontario due to what Henderson calls the current “restrictive legislation.”

“Getting rid of this exemption will multiply this lack of confidence, lead to less investment in new rental housing and hurt good tenants who deserve a wide variety of choices in finding high quality, affording rental housing,” he says.


Making changes like the one Sterling is proposing, he adds, requires consultations with stakeholders in the industry.

“Proposing a major change to make one tenant in your riding happy is irresponsible,” he says.

Toronto Star: Are students the target of a new proposed rental bylaw? -May 2011

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The Ontario Landlord Association is playing a role to protect landlords

May 20, 2011
Jennifer Brown, SPECIAL TO THE STAR

Landlords who lease their rental properties in residential areas of Waterloo have concerns that a new bylaw requiring them to have a licence is too restrictive for them and their prospective tenants. (more…)

Uh Oh! The Sheriff Is A Comin’!

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

What Can you Do If your Tenants Refuse to Leave?

It sounds a little “wild, wild, west, doesn’t it?  Your problem tenants are finally going to leave…because the Landlord and Tenant Board directed them to do so. What do you do if they are directed to move out, and don’t?   Cue the music, kick the tumbleweed. It’s time for the Sheriff. (more…)

Rent Increases and The secret of newer rental properties

Friday, April 29th, 2011

From the Toronto Star, “Many of the condos that are being built in the heart of Toronto, pictured here in September 2010, are being used as rental stock. Most tenants don’t know that rent guidelines do not apply to units…” (more…)

The eviction process in Ontario

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

(COURTESY OF YOUR LIBERAL GOVERNMENT)

May 2011 – Evictions, Landlord and Tenant Board

 

This is a true story of a straight forward eviction matter, that has officially qualified for the “nightmare” status we assign to our most memorable cases. (more…)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Small Business Landlord Jane Schweitzer has some Questions and Concerns about “Tenant School”

April 2011 – Pro tenants

 

Renting a unit is an extremely simple concept that has been done since houses were even built….LL offers unit for rent, renter pays for unit on time, in full, every month, everybody happy. Only in Ontario could they  think of something so utterly ridiculous such as “tenant school” as a make-work project.
 

A Typical Day at the Landlord and Tenant Board

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

 

It’s 9:00am on a sunny Tuesday. Landlords, tenants, and agents are lined up to sign in to the attendance record at the Landlord and Tenant Board for their hearings. (more…)