Tensions rise amid Toronto rent strike and landlord protests

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Group of people rally outside holding signs

More than 300 tenants in Toronto are taking part in a rent strike, alleging that their corporate landlord has been flouting rent control regulations.

In Ontario, landlords of rent-controlled buildings can only raise rent up to a government-set limit each year, which is 2.5% in 2023. However, landlords can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for rent increases above the guidelines, often by claiming a need for renovations or enhancements to living conditions.

As a result, tenants of two rent-controlled high-rises in York-South Weston claim their rents have increased by three to four times the allowed amount.

This Toronto rent strike has emerged amid separate protests from landlords across Ontario who are already dealing with increasing defaults. These landlords have raised concerns about significant amounts of unpaid rent, unprocessed evictions and lengthy delays at the LTB.

At their demonstrations, landlords are calling for speedier evictions and harsher penalties for tenants who violate rental agreements or exhibit disruptive behaviour.

Meanwhile, the rent strike in Toronto is gaining momentum. Bruno Dobrusin, an organiser with the York South-Weston Tenant Union, describes the support for the strike as "overwhelming." He says, “We're seeing that there is more and more demand for broader movements.”

If more tenants join the Toronto rent strike, landlords and their property managers could face substantial losses in rental income. The ongoing protests emphasise the need for a more efficient resolution process at the Landlord and Tenant Board to ensure a fair balance between the interests of both tenants and housing providers in Ontario.

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