Ontario making right moves to help tenants

Ontario is facing a housing crisis. For example, today it is harder to find an apartment to rent in the Greater Toronto Area, than at any time in the last 17 years. This has resulted in rents that are among the highest in Canada.

In the past, people would rent as they saved enough money to buy a home. But today, sky-high housing prices mean people have to save more and rent longer. Worse still, a lack of rental supply means that there are more renters than there are available units, which is driving prices even higher. It’s a vicious circle that hurts young families most of all.

Rent control is a widely misunderstood policy. It divides a city into ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ For those who are lucky enough to already have an apartment, rent control helps control costs. However for those who have not yet been able to find a rental, rent control freezes thousands of families out of the housing market altogether because nobody can afford to build the new apartments the city needs.

In our 2018 Fall Economic Statement, our Ontario PC government is seeking to undo this damage with a balanced solution that will cut through the red tape, help build more housing more quickly, and bring housing costs down.

First, we are preserving rent control for all existing tenants in Ontario. If you’re already renting your home, or if you start renting an older apartment next week, next month or next year, you’re still protected by rent control. For 2019, this means we will protect your rent from going up by no more than 1.8%.

At the same time we are encouraging the construction of new housing supply by exempting new rental units from rent control. This would include new buildings, additions and most new basement apartments that are occupied for the first time for residential purposes after Nov. 15. This will encourage both big developers and small landlords to create more affordable apartments. This will help control and lower housing prices while providing consumers with more housing options.

At the same time, we are ending the previous Liberal government’s development charges rebate program. This saves approximately $100 million that would have gone to developers to build a small number of rental housing units in only a select few communities. It was a wasteful, ineffective program that funnelled taxpayer dollars into the pockets of those with the best connections, with only minimal impact on housing supply.

These changes are already being welcomed. The Greater Toronto Apartment Association says our plan will create “more housing options by encouraging new supply immediately, and in the near term.” The Real Property Association of Canada indicated that our changes to rent control will “send a signal that indeed Ontario is open for business” and will help create new rentals “for all current and future renters in Ontario.”

The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario says our approach is “considered, measured and strategic” and that it will help address affordability and “create an environment that encourages the development of new, purpose-built rental housing.”

A government that is ‘For the People,’ must also be ‘For the Tenants.’ By taking a balanced approach that protects existing rent control for current renters, while helping encourage new units for those still on the outside, we are making housing more affordable, giving people more choice and helping taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their own pockets – where it belongs.

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