Peterborough is seeing a sharp rise in the number of landlords seeking to take back rentals from tenants because they say they need the units for themselves or a close family member, new data shows.
In 2022, the Landlord and Tenant Board received 70 eviction applications from Peterborough landlords who were seeking to take over rental units for their own use – an increase of 150 percent from 2020, according to figures Currents obtained from the province.
Peterborough’s Housing Resource Centre is getting a “ton” of calls from people facing “own-use” evictions right now, according to manager Annie Hedden.
Hedden said the provincial numbers don’t show the full extent of the problem. That’s because the figures only capture cases where the landlord issues an eviction notice and then takes the next step of seeking a formal hearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). But many renters choose not to fight their eviction notice and move out before the landlord has to apply for a hearing, according to Hedden. “A lot of people don’t think that there is anything that they can do to fight it.”
In Ontario, landlords can apply to evict a tenant if they or a close family member intends to move into the unit. But landlords often claim they need to move in as a pretext to remove a tenant and hike the rent, according to Hedden.
“Often tenants know something about their landlord, they have relationships with them… they know that someone lives in, say, Scarborough, and has a family. And then all of a sudden the landlord’s claiming that they’re moving into a one-bedroom basement apartment in Peterborough,” she said. “It doesn’t feel reasonable.”
“I felt like I was gonna pass out”
Emily Minthorn was at work this past March when her husband Chris Lawson called her to say they had received an eviction notice.
“I felt like I was gonna pass out,” Minthorn said. “It’s terrible to have to leave your home.”
The couple had lived in their East City apartment for seven-and-a-half years. But now their landlords were claiming that their daughter needed to move into the unit. They wanted Minthorn and Lawson to leave within two months.
They were “incredulous” as to why the landlords’ daughter would need the apartment on such short notice, but they decided their best option was to move.
If they find out that the daughter doesn’t end up living in the apartment, Minthorn said they will take their landlords to the Landlord and Tenant Board to seek compensation. “If she doesn’t seem to be actually living there, I think that we’ll know,” she said. “Everyone on the street knows us.”
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After living there for so long, Lawson said he’s hurt that the landlords only gave them two-months’ notice to leave “instead of telling us what their plans were ahead of time or working with us to find a solution.”
The couple has been paying $777 a month for their two-bedroom apartment. They found a two-bedroom home in another part of the city to move to. But the rent is $2,000 a month, more than 2.5 times what they currently pay.
Minthorn said the most frustrating part of the whole experience was seeing how much more expensive housing has gotten since she and Lawson first came to Peterborough in 2015.
“[Rent] has almost tripled since we moved here,” she said. “And what are you getting for your money? … This city isn’t three times better to live in, it doesn’t have three times the transit. It doesn’t have three times the available good-paying jobs. It has less culture than ever before, like it’s still recovering from COVID.”
“Profit-seeking landlords will find reasons to evict good tenants”
When a landlord wants to take back possession of a unit for their personal use, they must issue the tenant a legal notice known as an N12 form, putting the person on notice that they could be evicted. But many landlords skip that step, instead merely telling the tenant they intend to move in, which is often enough to intimidate someone into moving out, according to Hedden.
If the landlord or one of their family members doesn’t actually move in, it can be difficult to prove, Hedden said. “It would require long-term surveillance of the unit that almost nobody is going to have the time, resources, or desire to do.”
Currents previously reported that “own-use” eviction filings began to rise sharply in 2021, as the pandemic was putting pressure on the rental housing market (there were 54 in total that year).
But the trend continues, driven by soaring rental prices that have created an incentive for landlords to evict long-term tenants, according to Hedden. “There is more profit in new tenants,” she said. “Profit-seeking landlords will find reasons to evict good tenants.”
The province limits the amount by which landlords can increase the rent for most current tenants, but when a unit becomes vacant they can hike the rent by as much as they want for the next person that moves in.
The provincial figures show the number of times landlords applied for an eviction hearing after issuing an N12 notice. But the LTB does not track how many of those hearings result in eviction orders.