By Lori Fazari
Students may have to kiss rent controls goodbye early next year.
Higher rent could become a reality — if the provincial government’s Bill 96 becomes law.
The current Rent Control Act, introduced in 1992 by the NDP government, ensures rent can’t increase more than a certain average each year. The new Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act, will do away with these rent controls, allowing landlords to increase the rent after a tenant moves out and impose a rent cap on the new rate.
The government hopes this will encourage landlords to build more housing and better maintain existing apartments.
This could mean downtown neighbourhoods would have more high-priced apartments, squeezing student out into suburban areas to find affordable housing.
“We think rents are already at market levels or close to them,” said Grant Cockburn, policy analyst with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“What the provincial government is doing is abandoning renters,” Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall said. She added students will lose affordable housing.
Students will especially feel the squeeze because they move around a lot.
“We’re getting screwed from both sides — school is expensive and now rent is,” said Adnan Chaudhry, a first-year business student.
After finding living downtown too expensive, Chaudhry, 23, began commuting from Brampton, but now wants to share a two-bedroom apartment with four friends for $1,300 a month.
“Nothing around Ryerson is cheap, unless you want a rathole,” Chaudhry said.
Toronto real estate agent Ida Botelho said the bill will give students more choice and better places to live.
“When landlords have an extra $400 a month, they can afford to put in a new kitchen floor, they can paint once in a while.”
Other worries for students are that landlords will be allowed to do credit checks on prospective tenants, and must approve subletting.