It’s time to end the ban on residential evictions for “problem tenants,” says Matthew Bennett-Monty, president of the Guelph and District Association of Realtors, who worries small landlords have been particularly impacted by it.
“We do see tenants taking advantage … and it is unfortunate,” he said of the closure of the Landlord and Tenant Board which oversees, among other things, evictions. “For the folks out there who absolutely require assistance, they get bruised by those who have taken advantage.”
Bennett-Monty’s comments come on the heels of 15 recommendations from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to the provincial government aimed at stimulating the housing market. Laying out a “clear policy” to re-open the Landlord and Tenant Board is among those recommendations.
“I feel it’s a segment of the market that’s very important to Guelph. … Guelph is quite rental heavy.”
The province placed a moratorium on residential evictions in mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some processes Landlord and Tenant Board processes began again earlier this month.
When tenants are unable to pay their rent, or decide not to, that leaves landlords holding the bag, explained Bennett-Monty. They still have mortgages to pay and may end up paying increased interest charges because their mortgage amortization period is lengthened.
This can be particularly problematic for smaller landlords, like those providing student housing or who own small buildings with only a few units, he said.
“They simply cannot afford to carry the weight of problematic tenants.”
The OREA recommendation also calls for the creation of a temporary assistance program to help small landlords with tenants who can’t afford to pay rent for a prolonged period of time.
Among the other 14 recommendations are to permanently increase the land transfer tax rebate for first-time buyers to $6,000 from $4,000 and to introduce a home renovation tax credit similar to the one implemented by the federal government in 2009.
“The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how important the housing sector is to Ontario’s economic health,” said OREA CEO Tim Hudak in a news release. “The key instrument for economic recovery in Ontario is the sale of homes, which will result in an injection of more homes on the market and create spin-off jobs and consumer spending.”
While it’ll be up to the provincial government to decide which recommendations to adopt, if any, Bennett-Monty is optimistic things can be done to help the housing sector.
“I think that any sort of incentive that they’ve described here can only help,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s the answer to our prayers but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
“I certainly think it’s worth a shot.”