Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto had been facing a crisis in housing affordability. Furthermore, during the pandemic many renters have lost their employment. Following the lifting of the provincial moratorium, this has put many at risk of arrears debt, and evictions. Rent increases can exacerbate affordability and arrears challenges, and so understanding them is important for addressing rental challenges.
One way in which rents are increased above the provincially set inflation guideline is through Above Guideline Increases (AGIs). AGIs are a formal mechanism through which landlords increase rents on existing tenants in order to recoup the costs of repairs, retrofits, and tax increases. These repairs often include balcony repairs, common area renovations, and new boilers. AGI Applications trigger a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board and can, though do not always, result in a rent increase.
In response to the pandemic, Ontario has frozen rents for tenants remaining in their units for 2021. This rent freeze, however, exempts AGIs, which can still be applied for and granted for in 2021. Understanding which communities are most affected by Above Guideline Increases could be helpful for building political support for policy alternatives to AGIs that meet the interests of both tenants and landlords, as well as tenant organization activities.