Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan

The Ontario government went ahead with 16 new steps to slow the GTA real estate market.
It’s called Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan and it’s goal is to help more people find affordable homes, increase supply, and protect buyers and renters. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne says the plan is the result of months of consultation. “When young people can’t afford their own apartment or can’t even imagine owning their own home, we know we have a problem.” This month the Toronto Real Estate Board reported March sales up 33% over the past year. Here are the 16 actions they hope will help:
1 A 15% foreign buyers’ tax applicable as of April 21st in the Golden Horseshoe A rebate may be available.Some exemptions such as refugees will apply.
2. Expanding rent control to dwellings built after 1991. Increases will now be tied to inflation (currently 1.5%) Annual rental increases are capped at 2.5%.
3. Strengthening the Residential Tenancies Act to clarify leases and compensate some evicted tenants.
4. Opening up provincially owned land for building affordable housing
5. A vacant home property tax to encourage owners to sell or rent unoccupied units.
6. Matching of property taxes for new multi-residential apartment buildings and other residential properties to encourage builders to create more rental buildings.
7. A rebate program to encourage the building of rental aparment buildings.
8. Municipalities to use property taxes to influence property development
9. Creating a Provincial Housing Supply Team to cut back on red tape for developments.
10. Tackling speculation and tax avoidance due to assignments.
11. Reviewing real estate rules to protect consumers.
12. Establishing a housing advisory group to provide government with ongoing housing market advice.
13. Educating consumers on rights, particularly on multiple representation
14. Partnering with the Canadian Revenue Agency to explore reporting requirements so that correct taxes are paid.
15. Making elevators more reliable by establishing repair schedules.
16. Working with municipalities on a updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe for further intensification.

With the strong economy and the bank of Canada deciding not to raise rates this month, economists hope this will make for a more reasonable rate of increase.  “We are not interested in controlling the market,” says Wynne “But we do believe that there is a need for interventions right now to calm what is going on,” More measures may be added if required. “Right now we believe these are the measures needed to help people find a place to live that they can afford,” says Wynne. I agree that changes are needed and hope that this provides the cooling we need.

Image: Christopher Katsarov