Today, the Government of Ontario introduced new housing legislation – Bill 97, Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act (“HHPA”), 2022.
The HHPA is the latest in a series of steps the Province is taking to increase the housing supply and help more Ontarians find a home they can afford. Since 2015, TRREB has been a leading voice at the table with the Province advocating for policies to make homes more affordable for families, and we are thrilled to see the HHPA is acting on several TRREB recommendations.
The HHPA and assorted regulatory postings are proposing policy changes in three key areas:
- Helping Landlords & Tenants;
- Streamlining Land-Use Planning Policy; and
- Helping Homebuyers.
Here’s what you need to know about the Bill:
Helping Landlords & Tenants
The province is moving forward on a series of measures to clear the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) backlog and strengthen protections for renters and tenants.
Here are the proposed changes:
Clearing the Landlord and Tenant Backlog
- An additional $6.5 million to appoint 40 additional adjudicators to improve service standards for landlords and tenants and reduce timeframes for decisions;
- Implement a Lean review of the current LTB processes and find opportunities for efficiencies; and
- More training for adjudicators to speed up file and hearing management.
Access to Air Conditioning
- Proposed changes that would clarify and enhance tenants’ rights to install window or portable air conditioning in their units.
Reinforcing Rules Against Evictions
- Proposed changes to further strengthen renter protections from evictions for renovations or when landlord/family member wants to move in.
- For example, when evicting a tenant to renovate a unit, landlords would be required to provide a report from a qualified person stating that the unit must be vacant for renovations to take place and the estimated completion date.
- For example, when evicting a tenant, the landlord (or their family) would be required to move into the unit by a specific deadline (to be prescribed).
Doubling Fines Under the RTA
- The Province is proposing to double fines under the Residential Tenancies Act (“RTA”) for things like bad faith evictions:
- from $50,000 to $100,000 for individuals
- from $250,000 to $500,000 for corporations
Rent Arears Repayment Agreements
- The Province is proposing to require the use of the LTB’s plain language repayment agreement form when a tenant is entering into a rent repayment agreement with the landlord.
Build More Homes for Renters
- The Province is consulting on regulation-making authorities that will help enable the creation of a balanced framework governing municipal rental replacement by-laws aimed at helping streamline the construction or revitalization of rental housing.
- For example, the regulations could include requirements that replacement units have the same core features as original units (e.g., bedrooms) or giving existing tenants the right to move back into the unit at the same rent.
Streamlining Land-Use Planning Policy
The government is seeking input on a proposed new land use planning policy document – the Provincial Planning Statement – that would combine the Provincial Policy Statement and a Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe to streamline and simplify Ontario’s land-use planning rules.
These proposed changes include several TRREB recommendations. Here are the highlights:
Increasing Housing Supply
- Maintain a mix of housing types. (TRREB recommendation) All municipalities would be required to provide a range and mix of housing options (e.g., low or mid-rise apartments) to address full range of housing needs in their community.
- Build up near transit. (TRREB recommendation) Twenty-nine of Ontario’s largest and fastest growing municipalities would be required to plan for growth in major transit station areas, and other strategic growth areas.
- Supporting multigenerational farming families. Permit family-owned farms to build three new residences on their existing property. In questions with the Ministry, it was explained that this would take the form of allowing three lots per family-owned farm property and up to two dwelling units per lot.
- Managing settlement boundary areas. Municipalities would have more flexibility deciding when and where to expand their settlement area boundaries, providing more land where it’s needed for housing.
Infrastructure to Support New Homes
- Schools and child-care in planning. The Province is proposing to require municipalities and school boards to work more closely to plan for schools and childcare facilities and integrate new facilities into developments.
- Planning for Pipes. The Province is proposing to reduce duplication in planning for water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to get more land ready for housing development.
Finally, the Province is proposing a series of changes aimed at helping-homebuyers. TRREB will be very engaged on the proposed cooling-off period for new freehold homes to ensure that a similar policy is not enacted for resale properties.
First Home Savings Account Protections
- The Province is proposing regulatory changes to provide unlimited deposit protection insurance for First Home Savings Account (FHSAs) held at Ontario credit unions or caisses populaires.
- FHSAs were introduced by the federal government in 2022 to give prospective first-time homebuyers the ability to save up to $40,000 on a tax-free basis.
Cooling-Off Period and Legal Review for New Home Purchases
- The Province will consult on a cooling-off period when people buy a new freehold home from a builder and a requirement that builders tell their customers about the cooling-off period.
- This change would allow buyers to cancel their purchase agreement within a specified time frame. The Province is seeking feedback on how long the cancellation period should last, disclosure requirements, and whether to include a purchaser cancellation charge.
- The Province is also seeking feedback on a requirement that buyers of new homes receive legal advice about their purchase agreements.
As a leading voice for new housing supply, TRREB is at the table with government consulting on these important changes.
Going forward, we will provide feedback directly to officials on the new legislation and proposed regulatory changes that emphasize the need for increased housing supply and stronger protections for new home buyers while avoiding unnecessary red tape for Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® and real estate.
Stay tuned for more updates from TRREB on these important changes.