Saturday, April 08, 2006

Who's Who in the Rental Industry

On the tenant side:

The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
: Established in 2001 as a defender of Ontario's low-income renters, co-op members and homeless. Much of the organization's advocacy involves test- case litigation, lobbying and developing housing policy.

The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations: Runs a hotline for the gamut of tenant issues. The not-for-profit organization also publishes information brochures, including The Tenant Survival Manual, and has a tenant outreach program.

Canadian Housing and Renewal Association: A non-profit organization that helps find affordable housing for low- and modest-income earners across Canada.

National Housing and Homelessness Network: A coalition of groups across Canada working on homelessness and housing issues.

On the landlord side:

The Greater Toronto Apartment Association: Represents about two-thirds of Toronto landlords, accounting for 170,000 rental suites out of a pool of 250,000.

Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario: Represents and protects landlord interests by working with politicians, the media and opinion shapers.

Fair Rental Policy Organization: A province-wide landlord lobby founded in 1985, the FRPO spearheads education campaigns focused on the "damage caused by rent controls and other government policies." It also organizes expert seminars and workshops for landlords.

Landlords' Self Help Centre: A legal clinic and walk-in centre, funded by Legal Aid Ontario, offering free information, assistance and educational programs to small-scale landlords.

In the middle

The Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. Decried by tenants as pro-landlord, and by landlords as pro-tenant, the tribunal is as controversial as the legislation that spawned it in 1998. A quasi-judicial body, the tribunal uses adjudicators and mediators to sort through landlord-tenant issues, taking pressure off Ontario courts that previously handled them.

Vacancy rates

The national vacancy rate — measured by dividing the number of units available by the total number of rentable units — was 2.7 per cent last year, unchanged from 2004. But the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says rental stock is tightening up in most major cities across Canada.

In Toronto, the vacancy rate fell to 3.7 per cent last year from 4.3 in 2004. Calgary saw biggest drop, from 4.3 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

Toronto boasts the highest average rent of all major urban areas at $1,052 for a two-bedroom apartment, edging out Vancouver ($1,004) and Ottawa ($920).


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