Hot real estate market causes problems for some renters amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- April Santala says she’s been renting a house in Oshawa, Ont., for the past four years with her two children. She says that her landlord randomly sent her an email saying he wanted to renovate and sell the property and asked her to leave within 60 days.
“Right now, I have no idea where I’m going to go. It's just hopeless," Santala said.
Like the rest of the Greater Toronto Area, Durham Region has seen major increases in real estate prices and some landlords have decided to cash in by selling their properties.
Santala said she has been looking for support from others and joined a Facebook group recently. She said there are many stories of renters being asked to leave so landlords can sell their properties.
“I just discovered there are so many people being kicked out. Long term renters, people who have rented for 13 years, 15 years. Landlords are just kicking people out," Santala said.
“It’s a landlords market right now,” said Geordie Dent, the executive director of The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations. “A lot of landlords are trying to push people out like this."
Dent said it’s important for renters to know that landlords can’t just ask someone to move out on short notice and that there is a legal process to follow.
“It's totally illegal. They can't evict you because they want to sell. They can only evict you because they have actually sold the unit and the person who buys it wants to move in," Dent said.
Dent said evictions are also currently on hold in Ontario because of the pandemic.
“If someone is adamant that they are not moving out until the sheriff comes, the landlord is not able to get them out until the eviction order has been lifted," Dent said.
Santala said she doesn’t want to cause issues with her current landlord, but she said she can’t find another place to live on short notice and that everywhere she looks is much more expensive than what she is paying now.
“I'm looking at paying $1,000 more a month for the floor of a house and right now I have an entire home for $1,475 plus utilities," Santala said.
Santala said while looking for a new place to live there is also a lot of competition. She said over 70 people applied for one listing and there was a bidding war. In another case, the landlord said they required a full year of rent to be paid in advance.
Santala said she is relived to learn she can’t be evicted right now, but she knows eventually she'll have to find another place to stay.
Rent increases have been put on hold for all of 2021. A landlord may be able to raise rents slightly if they've made capital improvements, but for the majority of renters in Ontario there should be zero increases this year.