On May 2, 2019, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan.
Ontarians are struggling to find and keep their affordable rental homes, especially renters living on low to moderate incomes. Here’s what the plan means for tenants across the province:
1. The government hopes that developers will choose to build rental housing and that by “creating more rental units, tenants will have more choice.” But with no plans for expansion of social housing or incentives to develop new affordable rental units for low- to moderate-income tenants, only those tenants who can afford to pay at the high end of the market will have any more choices.
2. Tenant protections have not been targeted in this Plan. In fact, the government states that “once they have a place to live, renters should not have to worry about being treated unfairly or being unlawfully evicted,” due to Ontario’s strong protections for tenants. ACTO will be working to keep those strong protections in place and to make them work for tenants.
3. Once again, small landlords are being encouraged to create new, legal secondary rental units like basement apartments. Secondary units are an important part of the rental market but are not sufficient to accommodate the increasing demand for rental housing in Ontario. Lack of rent control and lack of long-term security limits the appeal of this kind of rental unit to tenants who have a choice.
4. Inclusionary zoning would allow municipalities to leverage private development to require a certain percentage of affordable units. The government appears to intend to limit inclusionary zoning to areas “that are generally high-growth and are near higher order transit”, reducing the power of municipalities to develop their own inclusionary zoning plan that takes into account local context and needs.
5. The shortage of Landlord and Tenant Board adjudicators has created delays for landlords and tenants who need to have disputes resolved there. We are pleased that the government has announced further recruitment of adjudicators to fill vacancies but it is vital that those appointed in these positions are qualified and get these positions through a proper appointment process.
6. The Housing Supply Action Plan includes making it easier for developers to build by making development approvals easier through changes to the Planning Act. This includes going back to the old way of dealing with developer appeals of local decisions and making it more difficult for local governments to control development. The proposed measures do not address the need for increasing the supply of affordable rental housing, a critical concern for low and moderate income households in the province.