Ontario Liberals reject fast-tracking of rent control bill

New apartment development 'at risk' if province changes rent rules, organization warns

The Wynne Liberals rejected the NDP's request Thursday to quickly pass a bill that would expand rent control to all rental buildings in Ontario.

The NDP asked for unanimous consent of the Ontario Legislature to push a private members' bill on rent control through debate and into law immediately. The bill would end the exemption that allows unrestricted rent increases on rental units built after 1991.

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The Liberals refused to grant that consent, preventing a speedy passage of the bill.

The NDP is calling for urgent action to stop large rent increases from happening now, after the government flagged last month in response to stories by CBC Toronto that it is considering broadening rent control to include post-1991 units. 

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Housing Minister Chris Ballard are promising their own legislation soon.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath chastised the government for "taking its time" on rent control,  

"There are unscrupulous folks who are going to try to get in under the wire and increase the rents for tenants," said Horwath in an interview Thursday with CBC News. "Every single day is a day that the notice could be showing up on the renter's doorstep from the landlord." 

The Liberals say they refused to approve the NDP's rent control bill because it "doesn't go far enough" said Ballard.  

"The issues that tenants face are more than just rent hikes that are out of control," he said. "We're bringing in our own robust rent control act that will better deal with the problem."

Ballard did not say when he will act.

Asked by CBC Toronto about people who are being hit with rent increases in the meantime, Ballard responded: "I understand the frustration that they would feel but at the same time we have a responsibility to all renters across Ontario that we get the legislation right."  

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The exception in the province's rent control legislation means tenants in units built after November 1991 could see their rent increase by any amount once an existing lease expires.

Owners of pre-1991 units cannot increase rent beyond an annual inflationary guideline set by the province, without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board.This year, that increase is limited to 1.5 per cent.