Fair terms for a roof over your head
It’s never been easy to get into the housing market. I recall my late aunts telling my father that he would never be able to afford the $15,500 he was about to pay for the home I grew up in.
With housing units of all types: rental and for purchase, galloping upward in price in recent years, young people feel especially anxious that they will never be able to afford to live in the type of home they may have grown up in.
The Province grasped the challenges of the housing market in recent years, and has approached housing affordability and availability in an organized way:
- Housing demand;
- Housing supply;
- Protecting renters;
- Protecting real estate consumers;
- Working with municipalities;
- Ensuring fairness and safety.
Knowing that demand for housing is tight in every major global metropolitan centre is small comfort for the young people needing an affordable place to live to get on with their careers or families. Applying a 15% Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on the purchase or acquisition of certain residential property has helped cool the rocketing prices for land and residences in the past year.
When supplies of homes are short, building more homes helps people find a place to live. Ontario has unlocked provincial land to create more than 2,000 new purpose-built rental housing units, including affordable and family-sized rental housing. This is not a plan, it’s already done. The Province created a housing delivery group to work with municipalities, developers, and other interested parties to bring specific new housing developments to market faster; established a development approval roundtable to look at ways to improve the approval process and bring more housing to market; and committed to encouraging the construction of new purpose-built rental housing through a development charges rebate program and ensuring that property tax for new multi-residential apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.
Housing costs need to be predictable and affordable. Tenants should be protected from unfair rent increases; so-called ‘renovictions,’ and evictions. Ontario in 2017 expanded rent controls – all tenants in all private rental buildings, no matter when they were built, are protected against dramatic rent increases. The Province also strengthened tenant protections around evictions for a landlord’s own use, and developed an easy-to-understand standard lease for most private residential leases signed on or after April 30, 2018. It helps both tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities and avoid disputes. These measures are already implemented.
Protecting real estate consumers
Buying a home is the largest purchase most people will ever make. Ontario during the last 12 months too some strong steps to help real estate consumers understand the real-estate market, and its rules, when they sign on the dotted line. To ensure consumers are treated fairly in real estate transactions, Ontario has already modernized the rules, and addressed practices such as multiple representation (including double-ending,) where the same real estate professional or brokerage represents more than one party in a potential deal. Ontario is now a leader in real estate standards that help people understand their rights when they buy or sell a home. That is already done by Ontario’s Liberal government.
Working with municipalities
Ontario’s provincial government needs to consult and work with municipalities and other organizations to ‘unlock’ more housing. Under a Liberal administration, the Ministry of Housing has empowered municipalities to tax vacant homes; to encourage property owners to sell or rent empty units; and provided municipalities the flexibility to use property tax tools to help unlock development opportunities. For example, municipalities could be permitted to impose a higher tax on vacant land that has been approved for new housing.
More housing also means supporting planning that enables a diversity of homes to accommodate everyone regardless of income or family size. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe now requires municipalities to look at ways to incorporate a range of unit sizes in multi-residential buildings.
Ensuring fairness and safety
Whether they own or rent, Ontario Liberals want families to be able to access housing that meets their needs. To increase fairness and safety in Ontario’s housing market, your government has:
- Worked with the federal government to better understand and tackle practices, such as paper flipping, which may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market;
- Partnered with the federal government to explore reporting requirements and make sure real estate transactions are taxed properly;
- Studied how to make elevators more reliable and establish elevator repair timelines in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.
Taken together, these measures represent a substantial, multi-faceted plan to help young people and growing families access housing that meets their needs. You can find more information at the Ontario Ministry of Housing web site.