The cost of living has risen in everything for Ontarians, from what drivers pay at the pump to what shoppers spend at groceries while tightening their purse strings. Rent prices are no exception and a new report from the Advocacy Center for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) found that the majority of tenants now have to choose between food and paying rent.
Rental prices in Ontario have increased significantly compared to the same period last year. Rental prices for condos in Toronto, for example, have soared 24%, with an average rental of $2,583 per month, according to the latest figures from TorontoRentals.com. In Burlington, prices rose 15% across all rental types. The 12% price increase seen in Guelph and the 10% price increase in Hamilton are also putting pressure on tenants.
The ACTO commissioned a province-wide survey of Ontario renters in May and described the results, released earlier this week, as “stark.” An overwhelming 60% of renters said they needed to reduce food expenses to be able to pay rent, and an even more 74% said they needed to reduce other expenses in order to be able to pay rent.
“Tenants are caught in an extreme affordability crisis that affects them in all aspects of their lives, and very little is being done to help them,” the report says. “No one, anywhere should have to choose between food and shelter. And yet, in Ontario, that is exactly what we are seeing.
While the cost of living is soaring, salary increases have not followed. In Ontario, the minimum wage is set at $15 an hour, but the report notes that this is not enough. He cites experts who have found that in Toronto, for example, a living wage is $22.08 an hour. Because of this, Ontario renters living on low incomes find themselves in “very precarious financial situations,” the report says. Of low-income renters surveyed last month, 65% said if they lost their income, they wouldn’t be able to pay their next three months’ rent without going into debt.
“Understanding poverty is not just about measuring household income – it means we also need to look at how much people can save and how long they can cover their basic expenses if they were to lose their income,” the report says. . “Anyone who spends 50% or more of their income on housing is at very high risk of becoming homeless. Ontario tenants are on a knife edge to stay housed.
Rising rental prices are forcing many tenants to consider leaving their communities, with a third of tenants saying they have considered it.
“It means uprooting them, their families, possibly their jobs — every part of their lives just to find a home they can afford,” the report says.
The issue of affordable housing has been hotly debated, especially ahead of Thursday’s election, with leaders across the province offering various solutions. Many of these remedies rely on increasing the supply, but the ACTO says that won’t be enough quickly enough to help those who are currently struggling. What the ACTO is recommending is to remove the rent control exemption for buildings first occupied after 2018 and to stop allowing vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to increase rents in excess of rent control caps between tenants. The former has been a platform point of the Liberals, NDP and Green Party, and the latter is supported by the NDP.
“Eliminating vacancy control is a popular idea among tenants,” the report says. “Over 80 per cent of Ontario renters believe there should be a limit to how much landlords can raise the rent on a unit when it becomes vacant. We agree.”
Laura has covered real estate in Toronto, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Before coming to STOREYS as an editor, she worked as an urbanized editor in Toronto for Daily Hive.
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