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City planning committee approves study into anti-renovictions bylaw

Councillors voted to approve a study into an anti-renovictions bylaw on April 24, 2024 in Ottawa. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa) Councillors voted to approve a study into an anti-renovictions bylaw on April 24, 2024 in Ottawa. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)
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Councillors have approved a motion that would study the possibility of an anti-renovictions bylaw, which tenant advocates say would help to prevent frivolous evictions.

After several hours of debate and 17 delegates providing their input at Wednesday's planning and housing committee, councillors unanimously voted to approve the motion put forward by Coun. Ariel Troster.

The motion does not approve an anti-renovictions bylaw, but rather, enables staff to study the idea and provide the committee with cost estimates if such a bylaw were implemented.

City staff will now look into the feasibility of an anti-renovictions bylaw and look at the model put forward in Hamilton, Ont., where landlords are required to apply for permits before conducting work that requires a tenant to move out.

Delegates made up of tenants, advocacy organizations, the Ottawa Mission, student leaders and landlord advocates provided statements before councillors.

"My landlord just served me with an N13," said Dustin Munro, who lives in an apartment in Vanier and came with Ottawa advocacy organization ACORN. He told councillors he has lived at the same address for nine years and is being evicted so the landlord can make renovations to the property.

"I've been fighting to keep my place, I want to keep my place," he told councillors.

Ottawa Mission director of communications Aileen Leo spoke of the importance of introducing an anti-renovictions bylaw to reduce the burden on the shelter system. Leo says many clients visiting the shelter have been renovicted.

"It's incredibly frustrating and disparaging for us to see clients who have gone through our programs and find themselves back at our shelter which is not where they want to be," she said.

"Without an anti-renovictions bylaw, the situation will only get worse."

The city of Ottawa has seen an increase in N13 eviction notices handed to tenants. Statistics from the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) show there was a 545 per cent increase in N13 notices filed in Ottawa between 2017 and 2022, and tripled between 2022 and 2023, according to a report by Ottawa ACORN.

In January, the city of Hamilton became the first Ontario city to pass an anti-renovictions bylaw.

"Hamilton has taken the lead and I think we have the opportunity to lead too," Troster said.

She adds that the motion as it stands is "not prescriptive" and the details of the bylaw could change to fit Ottawa's circumstances.

Landlord advocates told councillors the bylaw would prevent landlords from making essential repairs to their units and said the city should leave rental issues to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

"The landlord and tenant board needs to be the only place where the landlords and tenants can discuss the renovictions that need to happen," said Kayla Andrade with the organization Ontario Landlords Watch.

"This is where the landlord can prove the evidence to an adjudicator."

Andrade said the city should consider looking at alternatives to protect tenants, such as improving insurance for displaced tenants and introducing education programs to inform tenants of their rights.

Staff will have until September to present a report to councillors outlining their recommendations on the feasibility of an anti-renovictions bylaw.

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