COVID "Evictions Tracker" website launches in Toronto to help tenants

Aug 10 2020, 1:19 pm

Renting an apartment has been difficult during the coronavirus pandemic, especially now since Toronto landlords are allowed to evict tenants again.

But, a website launched called Keep Your Rent has created a Toronto COVID Evictions Tracker. It asks tenants for information including their address and the type of eviction notice they’ve received.

The company then posts some of the collected information onto their website and helps tenants become connected with one another to fight evictions, and asks if tenants require legal information.

“We do not need to hope and wait for politicians and landlords to come to their senses in order to put an end to this crisis,” Keep Your Rent’s website says.

The tracker has been produced by a similar company, RenovictionsTO which is “seeking to document renovictions and above guideline rent increases in Toronto, and provide resources and information for tenants.”

Keep Your Rent’s landing page also gives tenants tips to stop evictions and defend Toronto neighbourhoods. Some of this advice includes talking to neighbours, distributing flyers and posters, sharing phone numbers, addresses, unit numbers and emails and taking action.

The COVID-19 eviction tracker comes as the Ontario government passed Bill 184. Otherwise known as the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, the legislation changes were set into place to encourage negotiated settlements between tenants and landlords.

“We know tenants and landlords have struggled during COVID-19, and some households may be facing eviction due to unpaid rent during this crisis,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“By making these changes we are trying to keep people in their homes, and at the same time, helping landlords receive payment through a mutual repayment agreement. It’s a better approach, especially during these difficult times.”

Despite the passage of the bill, many are not happy as it ends the eviction moratorium. Section 83 of the Bill also allows landlords to apply to evict tenants who owe money from March 17, 2020.

Tenants have displayed their outrage across the city since, including on July 6 when crowds protested evictions outside of Toronto Mayor John Tory’s condominium, in Yorkville. A rally was also held on the same day at Queen’s Park.

Keep Your Rent has formatted an “Actions Speak Louder” form to send to Mayor Tory asking him and Toronto city council to use their jurisdictions in the situation.

The company has asked the mayor to use his emergency powers under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to implement an eviction moratorium in the City of Toronto. The form also asks Toronto’s local authorities to call on the Ontario government to repeal the bill and asks to direct police to not participate in the enforcement of evictions.

City council has recently voted 22 to two to bring a legal challenge against Bill 184.

According to Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor for Ward 13, city council will be going to court and the City Solicitor will try to stop the 6,000 pending July 31 COVID-19 evictions and re-establish tenants’ right to a fair hearing.

The city solicitor is also allowed to proceed on “any other grounds the city solicitor determines to be appropriate and city council direct the city solicitor to take any necessary action to achieve a stay of those provisions until such time as a final decision has been rendered in respect of the challenge.”

The Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act was given royal assent on July 21 and with more evictions likely on the way, the eviction tracker will help tenants to band together and dispute them.

Irelyne LaveryIrelyne Lavery

+ Urbanized