Toronto

Law to stop bad-faith evictions not working, lawyers and tenants say

Robyn Lemire was compensated a month's rent when she was evicted from her Corktown condo this summer. That seemed fair, until she found out that her landlord's wife didn't move in like she was supposed to.

Robyn Lemire ended up in a basement apartment after landlord said he needed her condo

Robyn Lemire had to move into a basement apartment after she was evicted from her Corktown condo because her landlord said he wanted the unit. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

Robyn Lemire was compensated a month's rent when she was evicted from her Corktown condo this summer. That seemed fair, until she found out that her landlord's wife didn't move in like she was supposed to.

A day after Lemire left, her unit popped up on multiple rental sites for about $600 more than what she had been paying.

"I knew it was a lie and went through all this hassle moving," Lemire told CBC Toronto while sitting in her cramped basement apartment. 

"It was a very stressful move, it was costly. I had to move into a basement, so a lot of my original furniture didn't fit in here and I had to get rid of it."

When she first got the eviction notice, she says she offered her landlord more money.

Tenant offered to pay $350 more a month

"I knew they recently had a baby and I thought, 'Okay, his wife is not going to want to live downtown in a small apartment without her husband," said Lemire. "They clearly just want more rent."

Lemire found her condo rental listed for nearly $600 more a month. (Robyn Lemire )

She offered to increase her rent by $350 to $1,900 a month, well above the yearly legal limit of 1.8 per cent. But Lemire says her landlord wanted an amount closer to $2,000, telling her that he'd have to find a more expensive unit for his wife if Lemire stayed in the condo.

After some back and forth, Lemire agreed to move and took the compensation of one month's rent — the amount landlords now have to pay when evicting their tenants if they plan to use the unit themselves or give it to a family member. The regulations came into place last September. 

But Lemire says the amount she received, $1,550, didn't help much as rental rates have gone up significantly since she moved into the Corktown condo. The only unit similar in price that she was able to find was a basement apartment. 

"It's a downgrade," said Lemire. "I don't have the same amenities and I'm still paying more a month." 

On the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), it shows her old condo was leased for $2,100 a month.

Lemire has filed a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board. CBC Toronto also spoke with two other renters who were evicted under the pretense that their landlord was going to move into their unit.

After they vacated, both of their units were relisted for hundreds of dollars more. They too have hearings before the Landlord and Tenant Board. 

Lemire has filed a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant board. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Fines aren't deterring evictions

Caryma Sa'd, a landlord-and-tenant lawyer, says even though the new laws are supposed to deter landlords from evicting tenants in bad faith, she still sees a lot of these cases. 

"I think the new laws have increased the amount of effort it takes on the part of the landlord to bring forth these [eviction] applications, but I don't think that it stamped them out," said Sa'd.

CBC Toronto contacted Lemire's former landlord, Jimmy Ros, who is a real estate agent.

He and his wife own two units inside the same Corktown condo building Lemire lived in. Ros declined to comment on what happened to the unit Lemire was living in, stating the matter is before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario, the body that governs agents, says although it doesn't deal with tenant and landlord issues directly, it does encourage tenants to share the results of a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing when an agent is involved.

Ben Myers, a real estate analyst, says current laws aren't dealing with Toronto's core problem, which he says is a lack of affordable rental units. (Richard Agecoutay, CBC)

'We're not delivering the supply we need'

Real estate analyst Ben Myers says the laws the previous government passed aren't addressing the core issue in Toronto.

"The market is extremely strong. Just looking at the numbers from Statistics Canada, our population growth is the highest it's been in 40 years, we're not delivering the supply we need to keep rents at a stable pace," said Myers.

With vacancy rates at one per cent, Myers says landlords are looking at different ways to take advantage of the demand and make money.

According to Myers, the only foolproof way to stop this behaviour, is to give developers incentives to build more affordable housing units. This would provide renters with greater choice and stabilize prices.

About the Author

Natalie Nanowski

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Natalie is a storyteller who spent the last few years in Montreal covering everything from politics to corruption and student protests. Now that she’s back in her hometown of Toronto, she is eagerly rediscovering what makes this city tick, and has a personal interest in real estate and investigative journalism. When she’s not reporting you can find her at a yoga studio or exploring Queen St. Contact Natalie: natalie.nanowski@cbc.ca