Ontario Liberals and NDP offer different rent control promises

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberals and New Democrats are both pledging to reintroduce rent control, taking slightly different tacks on the policy they say would help lifelong renters and would-be homeowners alike.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford removed rent control on new units after taking power in 2018, something Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said has only worsened the affordability crisis.

“We’ve seen over the past four years under the Ford Conservatives how the cost of literally everything has skyrocketed out of control, the cost of food, the cost of renting or purchasing a home, the cost of getting yourself around this city and around cities and communities across Ontario,” Del Duca said in Toronto on Friday.

“It’s all going in the wrong direction.”

Del Duca’s party is promising to bring back rent control as it existed before the 2018 election, when landlords could only raise rent at a set rate each year during a lease, usually between 0.5 and 3 per cent.

That’s still in place for units built before 2018, but those created after are not subject to rent control.

Del Duca said the two-tiered system has made housing less affordable, and has also seen prospectors snatch up newly built condo units to make a buck.

“We’re in the midst of the greatest housing affordability crisis of my lifetime,” he said. “And you know, when you talk to tenants, when you talk to young women and men who are looking perhaps to at some point make a purchase, you see fear, you hear real pain and real anguish.”

The NDP have promised to go a step further than the Liberals, preventing landlords from jacking up rent between leases.

“Rent control will come back – and I mean full rent control, none of this changing the rent on a vacant unit,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Friday.

“That was the beginning of the spiral in terms of the rental housing piece. And now, as things are so tight in the market, it’s just gotten worse.”

The party says that policy would remove the financial incentive for landlords to push out tenants so they can raise raise rent.

A spokeswoman for the Progressive Conservatives defended the decision to remove rent control on new units, saying it actually served to spur more building.

“We made changes to stimulate the construction of new rental housing, and our approach is working. In 2020, the year after our government’s housing supply action plan was released, Ontario had over 11,000 rental starts. Last year rental housing starts were the highest in 30 years,” Gillian Sloggett said in an email.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2022.

– with files from Liam Casey.

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