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Ottawa city councillor puts forward motion to crack down on bad-faith renovictions

A for rent sign is displayed on a house in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick A for rent sign is displayed on a house in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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An Ottawa city councillor wants the city to do more to prevent bad-faith evictions amid a soaring number of tenants being forced out of their homes.

Coun. Ariel Troster has put forward a motion to the city's planning and housing committee that if approved, would direct staff to explore the option of introducing an "anti-renovictions" bylaw that could prevent landlords from evicting tenants for renovations without proof the construction is significant.

In Ontario, the N13 eviction notice—also known as a renoviction—informs renters that they must vacate their home because the unit needs major renovations. Advocates say renovictions force a current tenant to move out of a unit to raise rent exponentially for a new tenant.

"One of the ways that we can stop the current crisis in our shelter system is to do everything we can to stop bad faith evictions," Troster told 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work.

"It's pushing people out of the city and increasingly, it's driving low income seniors to our shelter system."

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.

"I am quite sure a lot of these renovictions are being done in bad faith," Troster said.

Troster says she was inspired by the city of Hamilton, who this year became to first Ontario city to make it a requirement for landlords to provide a licence before making major renovations that require giving a tenant an N13 notice.

Troster says there is a need to introduce a similar policy in Ottawa.

"You do have to get permits, but you don’t have to show proof," she said.

"It's totally fine if you want to renovate your apartment and do some significant changes to the building. If that justifies asking the tenant to leave, then you need to prove it – I think that that's a pretty low bar."

Troster cites a Carleton University study that found that for every new unit of affordable housing built in Ottawa, 31 are being lost due to issues such as renovations or soaring rents.

Troster's motion will be discussed at the April 24 meeting of the city's planning and housing committee. The motion would direct staff to explore anticipated costs and report back to councillors.

City staff have considered a number of housing strategies to curb the impact of rent increases and prevent renovictions. A 2022 report said that an outright ban on all renovictions is not within the scope of the municipality's authority.

Ottawa's city council voted unanimously to declare housing and homelessness a crisis and an emergency in 2020.

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