The Cost Of Living
Sometimes you hear a story that forces you to take a long hard look at the kind of society we are living in. That is precisely how I felt when I heard about 2 tenants living in Toronto whose rent was being increased by 100%. That is not a typo, 100%! Imagine coming home one day to find that your rent was doubling from $1,660 to $3,320/month. Oh, and while you’re at it just throw in an additional $1,660 to bring your last month’s rent up to the new monthly expense. Good thing money grows on trees…
My first reaction was that this was illegal, rent is locked in to a certain percentage increase each year. Apparently that is not the case, seems there is a loophole allowing landlords of any building constructed after 1991 to increase rent as they see fit. So not technically illegal, though it makes you wonder what kind of shady dealings would have allowed that type of loophole to make it past our government in the first place. No regulation means that they could increase rent by any amount at any time. Not a very safe situation to be in as a tenant.
My second reaction, knowing that this wasn’t breaking a law, was that just because you can do something it doesn’t mean you should.
Some person somewhere signed off that this was an OK thing to do. And others would have known about that as well and clearly did not stop it from happening. I understand that they are just looking at it as a way to make money, and I would agree with arguments that based on location in the city $3,320 is probably fair market value if that apartment was empty and looking for tenants, but it certainly was not. How is it right to uproot peoples lives just so you can make some fast cash? Wait until they move out and then increase the cost to whatever you see fit, that is the way it is supposed to work.
Truthfully the more I think about it, the angrier I get. I am a proud Torontonian who has lived here for over 5 years and, with the exception of the distinct odour that envelops the city on garbage day, I love this city. It is a great place to live with just about anything anyone could ever want. But during the time that I have lived here I have watched real estate and rental prices shoot to astronomical heights, far out of the reach of most people seeking residence. I can accept that that is the state of the market, and in order to move to something new there will be an increase in cost. I cannot accept a landlord telling someone that they can either pay double rent or get the hell out.
People deserve to feel safe and secure in their own home. I honestly have no idea what I would do if I were in their situation. It disappoints me that the legislation isn’t there to properly protect renters, and that there are people in this city who would choose to exploit this loophole. The lesson here is that actions have consequences and that ‘can do’ and ‘should do’ are two VERY different things.
Check out the story on the CBC here for the full details. What do you think? Have they gone too far, or am I just overreacting? Share your stance in the comment section below.