May 29, 2019
Taylor Simmons, CBC
Tenants in a Leslieville apartment building say they’re facing renoviction — a growing practice where landlords evict tenants so they can renovate units and charge higher rents — after a new landlord took over their building in October.
Polina Palazova said she received formal notice last month stating she’d have to leave her apartment at 245 Logan Ave. for rewiring work.
She said she’s currently renting at a below-market rate, and if she’s kicked out, she doesn’t know where she would go.
“A lot of my neighbours are really freaked out,” Palazova told CBC Toronto.
“We’re dealing with this landlord who stands to make a lot of money by kicking all of us out.”
Coun. Paula Fletcher said she’ll be talking about the situation at a community meeting Wednesday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, located at 765 Queen St. E.
She also brought the issue up at Tuesday’s Planning and Housing Committee meeting “to see how the city can assist.”
She added Leslieville isn’t the only place dealing with possible evictions.
“The north part of East York … they are really suffering from renovictions. We have two or three places up there that we’re working on right now,” she said.
Renovations are a lawful reason for landlords to evict, but Fletcher said the work being done at 245 Logan Ave. does not look substantial enough to require it.
“I’d say that landlords are using a bit of a loophole … choosing to evict [the tenants] or renovict them in order to free the unit up to double or triple the price.”
Fletcher said work at 245 Logan Ave. has already started without permits, and the city has had to send inspectors to shut it down.
CBC Toronto reached out to the new management company in charge of the property, Briarlane Rental Property Management Inc., multiple times but did not receive a response.
It’s unclear if the company will raise the rent after the renovations, but Fletcher and some residents said they’d recently seen online advertisements for units at the building for more than double the current rent — from $800 or $900 per month to more than $2,000.
The rules around renoviction
According to documents obtained by CBC Toronto, the management company said work at Logan Avenue would include relocating electrical outlets, opening ceilings and walls to access wiring, adding new detectors and replacing submeters.
Fletcher said the Landlord and Tenant Board decides whether the work is substantial enough to evict, but she said she believes there can be misinformation.
“There is a big disconnect between … what they’re telling the Landlord and Tenant Board why tenants have to go, and the actual work that’s being performed in those apartments,” Fletcher said.
But if tenants are evicted, landlords with five or more units still must provide compensation to tenants.
If a resident chooses to leave because of renovations, the landlord must pay the equivalent of three months’ rent or offer another unit. If residents want to move back into the building after the renovations are complete, the landlord still has to compensate them, as well as allow them back at the same rental price.
But residents like Palazova said they don’t know where they would go while the renovations take place.
“I think most of us, if we’re forced to leave this building, are just going to give up and leave the city,” she said.
Roger Moores, who has been a tenant in the building for 11 years, said he’d also have to come up with a lot of money if he had to leave his current unit.
But he, Palazona and others at the building said they’ve found legal representation to fight the eviction at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
“It takes a lot to intimidate me,” Moores said.
“When it comes right down to it, we do not have to move.”
Protecting affordable housing
Fletcher said while the city is aiming to build more affordable housing, they also need to find ways to protect it.
“We are losing places faster than we’re giving somebody the keys for a new affordable unit,” she said.
“This is just shining a light on this practice, which is more and more prevalent in many communities, and it just seems wrong.”