Story: Given illegal 18.8% rent increase

Opinion contributor from Tenant Advocate who was served with eviction notice after illegal 18.8% rent increase above the Ontario guideline.

Guest Author: Anonymous (Dad, Tenant Advocate, Researcher, Professor)

Published: Thursday, February 8, 2024 | Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2024

As a tenant, I really wish Openroom had been available back in 2020 when my family and I faced troubles with our landlord.

My family and I first moved to Canada in 2015 and we lived in a beautiful, rent-controlled building with minimal issues.

In 2020, we relocated to be closer to our daughter's school while we worked as researchers at a university. Our new landlord demanded first and last month’s rent with an additional second month rent in order to secure the unit, which we paid without objection.

In 2021, during the COVID pandemic, our landlord announced a 5% increase even though the Ontario government had passed legislation to freeze rent. We tried to communicate our concerns with our landlord but to no avail, they would not listen to us. We had also developed positive relationships with our community and our daughter was adapting well to her surroundings. Considering this, we acquiesced to our landlord’s demands without further resistance to avoid disrupting our daughter’s development.

Fast forward a year to 2022, our landlords approached us again, this time proposing a 20% increase in rent. This time we refused to accept the increase, referring to Ontario guidelines which only stipulated a 1.2% increase. During negotiations, our landlords asserted that they were well aware of government rules but if we wanted to stay, we had to accept the 20% increase. We didn't agree, and a few months later, they served us with an N12 (Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit), claiming they were moving back to the house.

We searched for alternatives but every other rental option was significantly more expensive. At this point, we were well-established in the community and our daughter was adapting well to her school and friends. We were deeply concerned that moving our daughter to another school would impact her social development. We decided to hire a paralegal to help us navigate this situation, and for eight months, it was incredibly challenging and one of the most stressful times of our lives.

Our N12 (Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit) hearing day finally arrived and it was a long one. We were 14th in line to be heard. We witnessed 13 families being evicted, some in similar situations to ours (eviction for the purpose of increasing rent above guidelines). Our case was adjourned due to time constraints. We believed we had a strong case and had evidence to show that our eviction was being imposed in bad faith. However, watching the previous cases unfold before us caused us to slowly lose trust in the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) system.

In the months leading up to our second hearing date, we decided to move to a nearby place that became available for rent somewhat within our budget. We will never know if we could have won our case but the experience has left us with mixed feelings. The system exists to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, but it seems to favor landlords.

The house we left has been vacant for over 9 months. Our current rent is slightly more expensive and resulted in us having less funds to invest in our daughter. We only wish we knew more about our landlords before renting from them. Openroom could have helped us make a more informed decision, avoiding a lot of stress and saving us thousands of dollars.

This Opinion Contribution was sent in to Openroom by Guest Author: Anonymous (Dad, Tenant Advocate, Researcher, Professor)

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