Ontario’s rental market watchdog doesn’t often fine landlords for evicting tenants illegally — and when it does, most fines are under $2000, according to new data.
That has the opposition NDP crying foul, saying most fines are less than the cost of a month’s rent in Toronto’s red-hot rental market and warning lower consequences could put more tenants at risk of illegal eviction.
“The data is shocking,” said NDP housing critic Jessica Bell. “This is telling us loud and clear that the rules are not helping tenants, and they are not being enforced.”
Bell said of the 51 fines issued in the last four years, only one landlord has paid up.
Tribunals Ontario, which operates the Landlord and Tenant Board, said the agency doesn’t track the outcome of its applications, and each fine is up to the individual arbitrator.
“This remedy is not normally imposed unless a landlord has shown a blatant disregard for the RTA (Residential Tenancies Act) and other remedies will not provide adequate deterrence and compliance,” said spokesperson Janet Deline.
The data obtained by the NDP show just under half of the fines, 24, were $1000 or less. Fifteen were between $1000 and $2000. Nine were between $2000 and $5000. One organization was fined $75,000.
That’s despite a bill passed in July 2020 that doubled maximum fines to $50,000 for individual landlords and $250,000 for corporations.
Toronto is the second-most expensive rental market in Canada, with the average rent for a one-bedroom hitting $2,551 at the end of 2022, according to Rentals.ca and Urbanation. The average price of a two-bedroom hit $3,363.
Social worker Axiom Edmonds said fines less than a month’s rent aren’t likely to have an impact when an eviction could give a landlord the opportunity to set the rent higher for the next tenant.
“That’s nothing to a landlord. The fine doesn’t justify the benefits from breaking the law in the first place,” Edmonds said.
“I’m hoping for a change in the form of rent controls, community land trusts, other ways to moderate how expensive land is in this city,” Edmonds said.
Landlords are applying to evict people to use the property themselves more often, from about 3900 per year in 2019 to about 5500 applications last year.
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