Landlord said she needed the apartment, then it popped up for rent on Kijiji
Proposed new rent rules would get tough on landlords evicting tenants for own use
When a young woman and her husband in Toronto's west end got an eviction notice this past March from their landlord claiming she wanted to move into their long-time unit, they were instantly suspicious.
"I just really didn't trust her," said the graphic designer, 33, as she and her partner recounted the story to CBC Toronto.
"Even though I suspected, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt," she said.
CBC Toronto has agreed to protect the couple's identities as they go to the Landlord and Tenant Board with their story — one that's become much more common, according to tenant advocates and the Wynne government, and one that highlights how the province's recently announced changes to rules governing rentals could make it harder for landlords to evict tenants in this way.
The couple's distrust started two years ago, they say, when the landlord approached them about a rent increase. She had just purchased the property from a previous landlord and wanted to increase the rent on the couple's one-bedroom unit by some $200 a month.
When the couple pointed out that was above the rent increase guideline set by the province, the landlord said she'd have no choice but to move in herself.
Rather than face the hassle of finding a new place, the couple agreed to pay the difference.
So this spring when the landlord emailed them saying she planned to move in, they weren't totally surprised.
But they were stunned when an ad for their unit popped up on Kijiji before they even moved out.
The woman and her husband, a video-game designer, had been paying $1,410 a month. The new rent was listed at $2,100.
"I feel very betrayed that she blatantly lied like that, and could not care less about our situation and how this might impact us," she said.
There was also an open house scheduled.
Plan to move in? Better be ready to prove it
As part of the recently announced Ontario's Fair Housing Plan, landlords who serve what's called N12 notices — evicting a tenant because they plan to move back into the unit for their own use — will have to prove they actually intend to do so.
Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, says he's seen a spike in the number of landlords attempting to evict tenants this way.
"This is actually very, very, very common. It's kind of grotesque right now. It's a landlord's market," He told CBC Toronto.
"I think it's pretty clear from the data we have that a lot of landlords are trying to evict people to move in bad faith — meaning they don't mean it. The landlords are giving these notices, getting the tenant out and then jacking the rent up."
Before the new rules came in, if tenants discovered a landlord was being untruthful, it was up to them to prove it.
Now the onus will be on the landlord to produce evidence that they, or someone in their family, will live in the unit for at least one year.
"You'd better have a moving truck. You'd better have given notice to the previous place you were living," Dent said.
"These are basic things landlords don't have to provide right now."
Under the legislation, landlords also have to compensate the tenant for one month's rent or offer another acceptable rental unit, according to the housing ministry.
"The tenant can choose to move out based on the notice. If the tenant disagrees(feels the notice is invalid) they don't have to leave based on the notice alone, the ministry explained in an email to CBC Toronto.
"The landlord would have to file an application at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). The LTB would determine whether the tenancy is terminated and what day the tenant must leave."
The changes became effective as of April 20, even though the legislation is still making its way through the provincial Legislature. It is expected to pass, given the governing Liberals have a majority..
The west-end couple have filed a claim with the landlord and tenant board — what's often described as a time-consuming and frustrating process.
The couple is adamant it's the right thing to do to teach their former landlord a lesson.
"I sort of feel like she needs to understand this is not something you can do to people, to profit yourself." the woman told CBC Toronto.
"I want it to deter her from trying this to someone else."