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COVID-19 turns Toronto rental market on its head, puts tenants on top – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



TORONTO — Landlords are lining up to sign Rees Nam and their partner as tenants, even though the two have already found an apartment in Toronto – a far cry from when Nam was last on the hunt, two years ago.

Back then, it took a personal connection for Nam to secure a lease, but this time around they and their partner signed one a week after seeing the apartment, which is both bigger and cheaper than their current unit.

“It was very quick,” said Nam, who uses gender-neutral pronouns. “Quicker than what I experienced a couple years ago when I was looking for a place. I found that not only were the rental prices high, but the turnaround was not that fast.”

The process was so quick this time that landlords have been following up with Nam and their partner for weeks, calling to see if they’re still interested in seeing soon-to-be-vacant units.

The economic uncertainty wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has turned Toronto’s rental market upside down, industry insiders said.

Power once wielded exclusively by landlords has been passed to their would-be tenants, giving renters the chance to negotiate lower prices – and bigger perks.

Nam and their partner, for instance, asked that the unit be painted before they moved in. And they were able to choose a place with a hands-on landlord with long-term tenants.

The market has been flooded with rental units previously used as AirBnBs or occupied by people who have since moved in with parents or friends to save money, said Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations.

“You’re hearing this kind of across the board. A lot of people are moving into units that are semi-furnished and looked like they were ready to go as an AirBnB,” Dent said. “The other area where I think you might see some increasing supplies (is) from student housing.”

According to a report released this month by the online brokerage Zoocasa, the number of condos listed for rent in Toronto spiked 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same time last year. In the downtown area, it grew a whopping 80 per cent.

The average condo rental price across the city dropped by six per cent over the previous year, the report said, as the number of condos leased declined by 25 per cent in the same period.

Sara Rowshanbin, a broker who represents buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants, said her business has seen a dramatic shift during the pandemic, with fewer people looking to rent.

“When I usually have tenant clients this time of the year, it’s almost exclusively students or new immigrants looking to secure housing before the school year starts,” she said. “And that’s come to almost a full standstill.”

But for those who are looking for units, she said, the benefits are manifold.

“In the downtown core, which is where most of my tenants would be looking at this time of the year, it’s so, so much easier in terms of finding a better price,” Rowshanbin said.

She said some have been shocked by the shift.

“We forget in Toronto, the market doesn’t always go up in a balanced situation. It sometimes stays the same, and once in a while it goes down a little,” she said. “The extent that we’ve seen leases go down, in the midst of a pandemic especially, it’s actually a little bit welcome. It’s part of the balance.”

William Blake, a landlord and member of the Ontario Landlords Association, agreed.

“Let’s face it, landlords have been having a very solid, strong market. We’ve had the advantage over the past 10 years especially,” he said. “But tenants now have higher expectations. They can shop around, so landlords have to take that extra step to make their place stand out.”

Blake said he has been upgrading the appliances in his units and lowering rents, he said – anything to make them “sparkle.”

He said he hopes this serves as a wake-up call to absentee landlords.

“The professional landlords who take being a landlord very, very seriously, like myself, we’re still doing very well. The turbulence is fine,” he said.

“But it’s the amateur landlords who thought, ‘Oh, it’s just an investment. I don’t have to work at all. I just put people in and collect the rent.’ These are the people who are going to be having a hard time during this period.”

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Canadian Police Arrested a Man for Sleeping While His ‘Self-Driving’ Tesla Sped Down the Highway – Robb Report



We’ve all felt the need to catch 40 winks at inconvenient times, but one Candian man took his need for shut-eye to a whole new level.

Alberta police have formally charged a 20-year-old man who was caught asleep behind the wheel of his Tesla while the electric vehicle was speeding on autopilot. Authorities were alerted to the scene on the afternoon of July 9th by a caller who noted that both of the front seats were fully reclined with no visible operator. Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News on Thursday that the car was traveling 87mph in a zone with a speed limit of 68mph. Both the driver and the passenger appeared to be fully asleep, according to police.

“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” Turnbull told CBC. “I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course, the technology wasn’t there.”

The model in question was a 2019 Tesla Model S, which has an array of autopilot features from auto-steer to “traffic-aware” cruise control, both of which were engaged when the car was stopped. But despite its name, the autopilot function still requires an active driver to monitor the road, making a lack of one remarkably dangerous all on its own. It turned out to be even more detrimental than the concerned police originally thought because once the officers activated their car’s emergency lights, the Tesla began accelerating and eventually reached a speed of 93mph, which was confirmed by a radar scan.

Officers eventually caught up with the vehicle and issued the sleeping driver a 24-hour license suspension for fatigue before an investigation resulted in a charge of dangerous driving. The driver received a court summons scheduled for this December. Fortunately, no one was injured as the incident ensued, but it acts as a serious cautionary tale as Tesla’s autopilot functions have come under sharp scrutiny for their potential links to more than one crash and related death.

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No winning ticket sold in Saturday's $5M Lotto 649 draw – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.

However, the guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket holder in Quebec.

The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Sept. 23 will be approximately $6 million.

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Online thieves scam Toronto couple out of more than $1,000 in PC Optimum points hack –



When Chris Eggers and his wife signed up for an in-store text message promotion at a Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart, they thought they’d collect extra PC Optimum points.

Instead, Eggers alleges, hackers stole them all.

“Every week, [PC Optimum] would text me, ‘See if you’re a winner and click on the link!'” he explained.

“One of the links I clicked, and I still have the text, asked me to enter my PC optimum information.”

So, Eggers, 37, entered the couple’s log-in details.

“I believe it is at that point that my identity was compromised,” he told CBC Toronto.

All the text messages came from the same number. But only one, he says, asked him to enter his account information.

Eggers signed up for an in-store contest at the end of August at a Toronto’s Shoppers Drug Mart that would send him text messages like these. (Chris Eggers)

A few days later, the couple was alerted that all their points had been cashed in.

“My wife got emails saying that our PC Optimum points were being redeemed at Vaughan Mills Mall, 600,000 of them,” Eggers explained.

“And so, of course, we panic, you know, try to open the app and change everything, but at that point it was all gone.”

Hackers redeemed more than $1,100 worth of points

Emails the couple supplied to CBC Toronto show a total of $1,149.99 worth of merchandise was redeemed at the Shoppers Drug Mart located in the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre in Vaughan, Ont. north of Toronto.

Eggers notified Loblaw Companies Ltd., the corporation that operates the PC Optimum program, and has since filed a report with York Regional Police.

Eggers’s wife received a series of email alerts from PC Optimum congratulating them for redeeming points, as scammers used their account to redeem over $1,100 worth of merchandise. The couple desperately tried to change their passwords, but weren’t fast enough and all their points were stolen. (Chris Eggers)

Scammers have targeted the reward system before.

Two years ago, CBC News interviewed eight people across Canada who said they’d each had more than 100,000 points stolen from their accounts after Loblaw merged its two rewards programs — PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum — to form PC Optimum on Feb. 1, 2018.

The reported thefts are just one more problem plaguing Loblaw, which was already dealing with technical glitches involving PC Optimum, and fallout from a bread price-fixing scandal, including the related controversy over asking some people to send their ID to collect a $25 gift card as compensation for the overpriced bread.

No connection to text promotion, Loblaw says

When the company replied to Eggers days later, he was told his email had been compromised and there was no connection to the in-store text promotion.

That’s something Eggers still has trouble accepting.

“I don’t believe that because if somebody was going to compromise my email, then they would have gone after my banking,” he said.

The PC Optimum card replaced the PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum loyalty rewards cards following the 2014 merger of Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart. Technical issues, including the loss of points and an inability to register, have plagued the new Optimum card since its launch on Feb. 1, 2018. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“It’s quite a leap to think that when you get into somebody’s email that they have a Shoppers Optimum and that’s … the cherry they want to pick.”

In a statement to CBC News, Loblaw says the company reviewed screen shots of Eggers’s contest text messages and related links and has “not found any site/page that asked for PC Optimum account information.”

“The links provided simply show a promotional code,” the statement reads

Loblaw apologizes for ‘the inconvenience this has caused’

However, the retailer does acknowledge recent “smishing campaigns” — text messages asking for information, claiming to be from PC Optimum in recent months. 

“We’re still reviewing to see if that could be the case in this instance,” the company said, adding their investigation is ongoing.

“We are committed to understanding the scenario and how we can best help our customers moving forward.”

Loblaws says representatives have worked with Eggers and his wife to restore their points and secure their account.

The company also says it apologizes for “the inconvenience this has caused [for the couple] and the delay in resolving it.”

Eggers says he’s happy to have their points back but worries others could have also been hacked.

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