TORONTO – Today on April 6, 2023, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announced the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act. The Act brings about major improvements to the Landlord and Tenant Board and enforcement of tenant rights, addressing some concerns raised by tenants and tenant advocates for a long time such as greater LTB processing capacity, right to install air conditioning, and a crackdown on frivolous renovictions.
“Bad-faith, frivolous renovictions just to be able to reset rents to market have become disappointingly common. Tenants considering whether to take their complaints to the growing queue at the LTB often give up and an increase in the number of adjudicators offers some hope. We’re hopeful that these changes will make the LTB work for tenants again.” – said Colleen Bailey, an advocate with More Neighbours.
The Act also brings about some rental replacement measures across the province, though these were already present in Toronto as part of section 111 of Toronto’s Official Plan. In particular, after a rental property is redeveloped, tenants must be given the right to move to a unit of the same “core features” (eg. number of bedrooms) at the same rent. However, the announcement is vague on any requirements around providing interim housing or moving compensation to displaced tenants - both of which are key asks from More Neighbours Toronto to the province.
“We’re relieved to see the province retain some rental replacement rules in Toronto and expand them across the province. We will participate in the consultations and advocate for giving tenants temporary housing or equivalent compensation during redevelopment of a rental property, as part of provincial rules. Toronto already has these protections and we shouldn’t lose them. In a housing supply crisis, interim housing is a real challenge and strong rental replacement rules must include them. Without strong rental replacement protections, existing tenants have a stronger incentive to oppose new housing. We can avoid this zero-sum, displacement vs new housing debate by having strong rental replacement protections.” -- said Bilal Akhtar, a volunteer with More Neighbours.
Simplification of processes and the merger of the Growth Plan and Provincial Policy Statement is a welcome change, though it will not make a significant dent in meeting the Province’s 1.5 million homes target on its own. For that, stronger measures around zoning reform are necessary, and there are none in this bill. The Act makes it easier for municipalities to expand their urban boundary, but critically it does not incentivize or require them to accommodate growth within existing neighbourhoods.
“The province is, once again, refusing to fix bad policies and thus doubling down on tall-and-sprawl. Broad-sweeping zoning reforms to build more housing in existing neighbourhoods are within the province's control, and the only way we will get to 1.5 million new homes in 10 years” -- said Eric Lombardi, an advocate with More Neighbours Toronto.
Markets, labour and supply chains can take years to respond to policy changes. This Provincial Government is running low on time it has to make policy changes to meaningfully reach the goal of 1.5 million new homes in 10 years. The best time for reforms is now.
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More Neighbours Toronto is a volunteer-only organization of housing advocates that believe in building more multi-family homes of all kinds for those who dream of building their lives in Toronto. We advocate for reforms to increase our city’s ability to build more homes in every neighbourhood. We are a big-tent organisation with members across the political spectrum who are nevertheless committed to counterbalancing the anti-housing agenda that dominates Toronto's politics, created an affordability crisis, and has cost burdened a new generation of aspiring residents. We are firmly committed to the principle that housing is a human right and believe Toronto should be inclusive and welcoming to all.