Ontario NDP Leader Marit Styles speaks on rental crisis, cites 25 percent rent increase from 2021-2022 Styles and Kitchener councillor Debbie Chapman call for “real rent control” in Kitchener

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During a press conference at Rockway Gardens earlier today, Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles spoke on the need for “real rental controls,” citing a 25.6 per cent increase in the cost of a two-bedroom rental from 2021-2022 as proof of the rental crisis in KW. Kitchener councillor Debbie Chapman, who will run in the upcoming byelection for the Kitchener Centre seat, along with tenant advocate Brooklin Wallis, also spoke on the rental crisis tenants face in Kitchener-Waterloo, including increasing rents and a lack of measures addressing the issue.

Stiles criticized the Conservative government for seemingly turning their backs on Ontarians, stating, “Introducing real rent control is something the government could do right now. … But let’s be clear, they are choosing not to.”

Chapman then spoke on what could improve the situation, including implementing vacancy control to ensure new tenants pay what the last tenants paid to “remove the incentive that is driving bad-apple landlords to evict people out of their homes.” 

When questioned about the trade-offs students often face between affordable housing and safe housing, Stiles emphasized the importance of enforcing existing bylaws and regulations around housing safety, in the form of things like inspectors. 

“At this stage, with the market the way it is for rent, it’s kind of a wild west for landlords: they can decide whatever they want, they can rent at outrageous levels and people have little choice,” she said, before describing the necessity of increasing availability through building affordable housing in tandem with enforcement of bylaws and regulation to ensure units are kept safe.

Chapman also stated the importance of proper rental licenses to ensure students were living in proper conditions. The City of Waterloo currently has a licensing system for rental properties which requires low-rise residential rental units to have an annual license in order to “ensure safe accommodations.”

Chapman acknowledged the difficulties students can face with slum landlords and unhealthy living arrangements, and advised students to turn to stakeholders like their local representatives to raise concerns around property standards.