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Are You a Toronto Renter? Read This

Flickr: Jim Crocker

This is a first-hand account of’s Chief Marketing Officer Kerri-Lynn McAllister.

I just got hit with a $150/month rental increase. And it’s completely legal.

(Are you as shocked and disgusted as I am right now?)

I wasn’t aware of the exact details but, up until yesterday, I was pretty sure that I was protected against such a hefty rent increase by some provincial regulation or another. I had heard about this supposed regulation enough in passing to feel secure. Unfortunately, as it turns out, that was a false sense of security.

The provincial regulation I believed I was covered by is the Ontario Rent Increase Guideline, as set out by the Landlord and Tenant Board. According to the board’s website, the maximum allowable rent increase for 2013 is 2.5%. In 2011, the maximum was 0.7%. This is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is regarded as an objective, reliable measure of inflation.

However – and this is a BIG however – this limitation only applies to buildings registered before 1991. Surprise!

I rent an economical downtown condo near one of Toronto’s new luxury residences, The Shangri-La. Apparently, the close proximity to the luxury residence plus the fact that there is a shortage of rentals downtown means that rent prices have gone up – significantly, as confirmed by some casual investigation on the MLS. Nevermind the fact that my building is shoddily constructed (as evidenced by a case of the Toronto falling glass problem and some recent flooding in my unit), is rundown by immature, careless tenants, and that I would group it in the same class as CityPlace.

Needless to say, I’m miffed. But I don’t have much bargaining power: there are few alternatives in my desired rental area within the same price range.

So, I appealed to my landlord that I’m a comparatively good tenant, do not have all that great of a unit in my current building, and that I believe with all the maintenance issues the building has had that current rental rates are not sustainable. After going back and forth on the issues, my landlord finally agreed to lower my rent increase from $150/month to $75/month.

While I suppose I am satisfied with her decision, this situation left me wondering: how would a $150/month rental increase have changed my life? I’m a downtown kind of girl. I like the area I live in, as evident by the fact that I’ve been in this building for three years. But would a $150/month increase price me out of my desired location? If so, would it have been time for me to punch some numbers in our mortgage calculator and start thinking about buying?

For now, I will stay and take the smaller rental increase… but renters beware: you could be next.

Have you ever been dealt a significant rent increase that you legally had to comply with? What did you do? Stay and pay? Move? Or did you try to appeal it?