The Province of Ontario has announced its intention to introduce legislation this fall for a province-wide rent freeze, which would "ensure that the vast majority of families" do not see a rent increase in 2021.

A spokesperson for Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark confirmed the plans to Toronto Storeys on Friday.

The legislation would stabilize rents for Ontario's 1.6 million rental households.

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"Since the very beginning of COVID-19, our government has called on landlords and tenants to come together and be reasonable with each other -- and landlords and tenants across the province have shown the Ontario spirit by doing just that," the spokesperson said.

"Every year, the government sets out the maximum allowable rent increases for the year to come in rent-controlled unity. Those increases are modest and tied to inflation -- and for 2021 it would have been 1.5%. This increase is automatically published in the Gazette. But this year is not like every year."

According to the spokesperson, Premier Doug Ford directed Minister Clark to bring forward legislation this fall to support Ontario renters.

"We will engage the tenant and landlord groups to ensure the proposed legislation is fair and balanced."

No formal details surrounding the legislation have been released.

Meanwhile, Tony Irwin, President & CEO of The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO), says that they had expected the rent increase guideline to be the same in 2021.

"We did not anticipate this, we did not see it coming,” he said, with regards to the provincial announcement. According to Irwin, somewhere around 90% of Ontario renters were paying their rent in full and on time throughout COVID.

“We are obviously very sympathetic to many of our clients, and have offered deferral plans and worked with residents who are in need. But there's no one size fits all approach for this industry. We believe the better announcement from the government would have been to come forward with a targeted plan to help address the percentage of people who can’t pay their rent, as opposed to offering an across the board decision."

Irwin added that the FRPO is "looking forward to working with the government to resolve these issues."