Toronto’s rental housing crisis is making landlords and tenants vulnerable to the whims of city councils, lawyers say.
The number of tenants who have been evicted in the city since January is expected to climb to 100,000 this year, from 25,000 in 2016.
But the situation is far from over, with a recent report from the Toronto Real Estate Board predicting a similar increase in 2018.
In the latest episode of CBC Toronto’s podcast The House, a group of Toronto tenants and their lawyers are seeking to overturn the eviction orders that have led to their eviction.
The group, which includes Jackie Gaffney and Mike McClelland, argued that the city of Toronto should not have forced the landlords to pay property taxes on their homes as a condition of rent.
“We’re not looking to get out of this,” said Gaffey, a landlord and member of the tenants’ group.
“This is not a new problem, it’s been going on for years.
We are trying to help these people.””
I don’t want to live in a city where there are 100,001 people who have a home that is a blighted building.
We are trying to help these people.”
The problem of rent control has been a central theme of The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s annual report, which was released on Tuesday.
The report highlights that rent control, which is meant to protect tenants and property owners from rent increases, has been neglected by many governments in Canada.
It also notes that the number of landlords and the number who are evicted for non-payment has been increasing in the last decade, especially in Toronto.
According to the report, a quarter of all rental property in Toronto was vacant by mid-2017, a jump of 35% since 2000.
The report also points to a number of problems in Toronto’s property-tax system, including the city’s outdated system that fails to calculate property tax on the value of a property.
“The city of Ottawa has passed a new tax, which makes the value [of a property] a taxable asset.
This is in breach of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation’s mandate, which states that all taxes should be calculated based on fair and equitable taxation,” the report states.
But Toronto’s council, which owns most of the city, has not budged on its insistence that property tax be paid on the property’s value.
Gaffey says that while the city should not force landlords to collect property tax, the city is not required to collect it.
He said that in the current rental market, property taxes are often collected when a landlord has already sold a home to pay for repairs and maintenance.
“We believe it’s a discriminatory system and that landlords should have to pay the rent, and we’re willing to fight for that to happen,” said Gafey.
Toronto Council has yet to comment on the apparent shift in policy and a spokesman for the city’s finance department said it was “unaware of any significant change in policy” in regards to rent control.
“As a tenant and landlord, we are not interested in a return to the old system.
We would love to see the city take a fresh look at how we enforce property tax and property taxes that are not collected, and if this is what the new rent control would do, that would be fantastic,” said a spokesperson for Toronto Finance.
As this story was being published, the owners of the Toronto home were still waiting for their rent to be paid.
“They’re in shock,” McClendon said.
“They’re just going through a rollercoaster ride of emotions.”
“The system works, the system works well,” Gaffy said.