Ontario premier warns landlords price-gouging after Barrie tornado to 'stop immediately'
BARRIE, ONT. -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford is "strongly urging" landlords involved in price-gouging rental properties in Barrie following a tornado that caused roughly 100 people to be displaced to "stop immediately."
"These incidents of price-gouging in Barrie are absolutely unacceptable," the premier said Thursday. "No one should be taking advantage of people who are in vulnerable situations through no fault of their own."
Last week, the premier toured the tornado-stricken neighbourhood and spoke to several residents who lost their homes in the storm that produced winds of 210 km/h.
"I saw first-hand how local residents came together to help their neighbours in their time of need. That is the true Ontario spirit," Ford said.
Kim Ridgers' house was significantly damaged on the eve of reopening her Oxygen Yoga & Fitness studio, leaving her searching for a place to rent.
"There are some really awful people out there trying to capitalize on this, and it's just heartbreaking," she said. "I went to showings that went up thousands of dollars by the time I got there. That's just crazy."
Ridgers eventually signed a lease but not before the landlord came back and wanted $200 more per month. She says she walked away from another deal after that landlord asked for another $500 per month after they had agreed on a price.
Doug Cornwall is trying to rebuild his life after the EF-2 tornado and said the prices of rental properties "have increased everywhere we look."
Rent for a single-family home in the city is up roughly six per cent from last year, according to the Barrie and District Association of Realtors (BDAR).
BDAR president Chantal Godard said landlords are taking advantage of people.
"A detached home in Barrie, for a three-bedroom home you're looking at about $3,000 and up for rent for that," said Godard.
Barrie ranked in third place as the most expensive city to rent in Canada, surpassing Toronto, which fell to fourth place.