Councillor Mary Fragedakis to call on city to support rent control bill at Queen's Park

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Special Toronto committee meeting on Monday will focus on rental issues

A Toronto city councillor is expected to move a motion Tuesday that would see council come out in support of a private member's bill at Queen's Park that would extend rent control to apartments built after 1991.

Four years ago, city council approved a motion urging the province to close the so-called "1991 loophole," but nothing changed.

"It's actually in the last four years it's gotten even more expensive to live in this city. It's that dire a situation; we've got to do something. Over 150 thousand homes are affected by this exemption," said Coun. Mary Fragedakis, who represents Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth.

Her motion pledges support for New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns's private member's bill aimed at changing provincial legislation that allows the loophole, which was tabled not long after CBC Toronto's No Fixed Address series hightlighted the issue of steep rent hikes.

"I'm saying this bill has now been introduced at the Ontario legislature, this council has to reconfirm its support for it," Fragedakis said.

Tabuns's bill calls for the end of an exemption that removes rent control from nearly all rental units built after 1991.

"People deserve protection against unreasonable rent increases," Tabuns told CBC Toronto earlier this month. "The exemption that exists now for buildings built after 1991 needs to go. It isn't helping people anymore. In fact, it's putting people in a very difficult position."

In response, Housing Minister Chris Ballard has said it is "unacceptable" that Ontarians face skyrocketing housing costs.

"That's why my staff are already developing a plan to address unfair rises in rental costs by delivering substantive rent control reform in Ontario as part of an ongoing review of the Residential Tenancies Act," Ballard said in a statement.

"Our government is serious about reducing the pressure of housing costs felt by Ontarians, as well as providing more affordable options for people to choose from."

Details on this plan will come "in the days ahead," the statement said.

'Expenses are outpacing the rate of inflation'

But not everyone wants to see changes.

Chris Saracino, one of the founders of Renting Well — a Canadian software resource aimed at helping landlords manage their properties —  is a landlord himself and doesn't see the need for more provincial regulation.    

While none of his units are exempt from rent controls, he understands why newer properties, especially condo units. would need to hike rents.

"Expenses are outpacing the rate of inflation and I think condos are more affected by that," he told CBC Toronto.

Saracino says it isn't unusual to see condo maintenance fees in new buildings start out low but spike by more than 500 a month.

"Condo corporations can increase their fees dramatically based on whatever they might see fit in terms of improvements to the building. so it's technically harder to be a landlord when you have condo units."

Saracino says it's not unusual to see maintenance fees jump by several hundred dollars a month from one year to the next.   

Couple that with higher hydro bills and he feels landlords need a way to help shoulder the costs.