The increase in requests for eviction for personal use of owners

Your landlord wants their rental unit back — for themselves, a family member, or a new buyer. It’s a situation that a growing number of tenants in Toronto are facing, according to new data.

From January to October, the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board received 1,269 “personal use” eviction filings in Toronto – a big increase from the past two years, and on track to top the level high set before the pandemic, when a total of 1,274 requests were received throughout 2019.

The figures do not include cases where tenants receive an eviction notice or request and do not contest it, moving out before their landlord takes legal action with the Commission. Filing a claim also does not guarantee an eviction, but initiates a process that leads to a hearing.

Still, the growing numbers point to growing instability for renters in Toronto, as the number of people facing pressure to vacate their homes for their landlord, a member of their landlord’s immediate family, a caregiver or a new homebuyer rebounded from lows seen during the pandemic. In 2020 there were 864 filings, and last year there were 762 – the lowest rates seen since at least 2017.

“It creates a lot of stress,” said Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Subway Tenant Associations. While a request does not guarantee an eviction, he said tenants often leave due to uncertainty. « It’s often enough to push people out. »

Those tenants then face a market where prices have skyrocketed, he said. In October, the average Toronto one-bedroom apartment listed on cost $3,353 per month, or $2,502 for a one-bedroom apartment.

“It’s an absolute nightmare, especially right now in Toronto… the prices are too high, the number of vacancies and available spots are too low, and again the competition is intense.

Dent is among tenant advocates who believe Toronto’s hot rental market has caused some landlords to use the personal use process in bad faith to drive tenant turnover. While existing tenants in rent-controlled housing — most units first occupied before November 15, 2018 — are subject to an annual cap on rent increases, Ontario’s housing laws allow unlimited increases between rentals.

« Now there’s an incentive, » Dent said. « That means you can cash out. »

That’s a claim echoed by University of Winnipeg researchers Sarah Zell and Scott McCullough, who noted in a 2021 report that personal-use evictions could be used to circumvent rent control — by evicting tenants. for personal use and then relisting the unit at a higher rate.

But a general lack of data on evictions in Canada, particularly no-fault or development-related evictions, has made it difficult to measure the extent of the activity, as well as the impacts on the housing market and society in general, they noted.

Dent suspects the number of eviction requests reaching council are ‘dwarfed’ by the number taking place informally – the kind where a landlord’s personal use eviction notice, known as a Form N12, is given to a tenant who moves out without the landlord filing what is called an L2, which initiates the process of holding a hearing. According to Courts Ontario, the N12 eviction notice was downloaded from its website 75,892 times this year through November 22.

Tony Irwin, president of the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario, rejects the suggestion that a rise in eviction claims for personal use stems largely from landlords trying to get around rent control. « I’m not going to say that there are never circumstances where this kind of thing can happen, » Irwin warned, noting that any landlord using the system to raise rents was doing so in violation of provincial housing law. housing, and “should be held accountable.”

(Tenants can apply to the Board if they believe their landlord evicted them in bad faith through the personal use process. If proven, an individual landlord can be fined up to ‘at $50,000.)

But he thinks a constellation of factors played into the rise. With rents as high as they are, he said some people with investment properties might want to use their second homes as homes for their adult children, instead of pushing them on the expensive market. Early in the year, before the city’s real estate market began to cool, Irwin suggested the rapid pace of homes being bought and sold in Toronto may also have contributed to the number of filings.

(Data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board shows that in March there were nearly 11,000 homes and condos sold in the city and surrounding areas such as Peel, York and Halton. Although historically high, the total was lower than the more than 15,000 transactions recorded in March of 2021.)

People could have left town during the pandemic and rented their homes, he said, to return this year. He also pointed to the aging population, with the process legally allowed to be used to move a carer. « There are all kinds of situations where people need to do that. »

While other types of eviction requests are still below pre-pandemic levels, data shows the numbers are rising. From January to October, Courts Ontario recorded 174 eviction applications that included an N13 or a notice that a landlord wishes to demolish, repair or convert the dwelling.

That’s more than the totals for each of the past two years – 168 and 156 – though it’s still about 100 applications short of the peak recorded in 2019, when 271 such filings were recorded.


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