Multi-Tenant Houses

Update on Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses Proposal – Sept 7 2021
A proposal and proposed by-law changes were reviewed at the City Council meeting on July 15th. Numerous communications were received from individuals, residents organizations, university-associated organizations and other social/tenant associations.  Over 50 speakers were heard!  Councillors then provided their comments and it became obvious that a number of the Wards did not accept the recommendations and the proposed zoning amendments. Mayor Tory spoke indicating that there were insufficient votes to pass the motions. Mayor Tory then put a Motion forward to DEFER the discussion to the Oct 1/4 meeting of City Council to give time for additional discussions. We hope to be advised shortly whether amendments will be made to this proposal.

Planning and Housing Committee June 28, 2021

The City is proposing the creation of city-wide zoning and enhancements to licensing and enforcement of Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses (MTHs) to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable housing across the city (adding all of York and Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Leaside and East York).

Here is the City-Wide Framework for Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses Presentation used at the various Workshops. The  MTH Report for Action June 2021 for PHC on June 28 2021 was submitted to the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on June 28th. Drafts of Draft-City-wide-Stand-alone-Zoning-By-law-to-Permit-Multi-tenant-Houses and Draft-Zoning-By-law-Amendments-to-all-Applicable-General-Zoning-By-laws-Permit-Multi-tenant-Houses as well as a new Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 575 Multi-Tenant Houses have also been published and would come into effect as Nov 22, 2022.

The Planning and Housing Committee approved the Proposal with a number of important Motions regarding the budget and funding commitments, the need for evaluations and public reporting and the need to obtain additional enforcement resources for the next 15 months.  Staff prepared additional information for the July 14 City Council meeting in a Supplementary Report MTH Jul 14 2021. The proposal and the By-laws were then reviewed at the City Council meeting on July 15th.

Numerous communications were received from individuals, residents organizations, university-associated organizations and other social/tenant associations.  Over 50 speakers were heard!  Councillors then provided their comments and it became obvious that a number of the Wards did not accept the recommendations and the proposed zoning amendments. Mayor Tory then spoke indicating that there were insufficient votes to pass the motions. Mayor Tory then put a Motion forward to DEFER the discussion to the Sept 30/Oct 1 meeting of City Council to give time for additional discussions with the Councillors.

We hope that appropriate amendments can be made to this proposal to proceed with an effective program to improve the safety as well as the enforcement of this housing option.

 

Multi-Tenant (Rooming Houses) Planning and Housing Committee June 28

The City is proposing the creation of city-wide zoning and enhancements to licensing and enforcement of Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses (MTHs) to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable housing across the city (adding all of York and Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Leaside and East York).

Amendments to Zoning By-laws

We understood the Proposal (see below) would be reviewed for policies as well as results of the consultations at the Planning and Housing Committee (PHC) on June 28.  If approved by PHC, it would be reviewed by City Council on July 14/15 and if the Proposal was approved, we thought Planning would present Amendments to Zoning By-laws at a Public Hearing perhaps in September.  We were most surprised on June 8 to see a Notice in the Toronto Star of the proposed amendments and to receive Notice of a Public Meeting at PHC on June 28 from the City Clerk’s Office.

The zoning by-law changes should be submitted only after the PHC, City Council and the Public have had the opportunity to review and comment on the Proposal. We object to the rush of implementing city-wide zoning by-law amendments before the Proposal is duly reviewed and approved.

The Proposal

The proposed regulatory framework has four parts:

  1. Enhanced operator licensing requirements to promote health and safety
  2. An enforcement and compliance program
  3. City-wide zoning standards that permit use across the city, and
  4. Initiatives to support tenants and maintain affordability of housing

Here is the City-Wide Framework for Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses Presentation used at the various Workshops.

City staff have advised that “The Final Report will include recommendations on all the framework components, including licensing and enforcement. It will also include details of a phased implementation plan.”

The proposed implementation plan calls for a phased approach to ensure a smooth and orderly transition to a new framework.

A significant number of residents’ organizations attended one or more Workshops to review this proposal, including a Working Group of the Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Association (FoNTRA). The Working Group is supportive in principle of harmonizing the regulatory framework and zoning standards for MTHs in the City of Toronto. We agree that improved regulatory standards, inspections and enforcement are needed to improve the living conditions and safety for residents in these houses. We also endorse the proposal to first ensure existing operators, including licensed, unlicensed and illegal MTHs, are all in compliance before moving to a second phase which would allow new operators to apply for licenses.

But we have serious concerns with both the implementation process and the City’s ability to properly enforce these houses. As heard at the Workshops, there are many ongoing issues with illegal and unlicensed MTHs within both zoned and unzoned areas. These houses present real and potential safety issues for the tenants, many of whom may not be able to advocate for better housing themselves.

The significant number of non-compliant, illegal and unlicensed (and often unsafe) MTHs in the City is unacceptable. We strongly recommend that the City first properly deal with the current non-compliant, illegal and unlicensed houses before allowing new operators.

A Final Report will be presented at the June 28 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee (PHC) but the Report will only be made available to the public on June 21 – which gives the residents very little time to prepare letters to the Planning and Housing Committee and to contact their Councillor. The recommendations from the PHC would go to City Council on July 14/15.

For this reason, we are sharing today the Recommendations we expect to be submitting to the PHC.

Recommendations:

  1. Define evaluation criteria for Phase 1.
  2. Identify all existing MTHs across the city (licensed, unlicensed and illegal).
  3. Provide sufficient budget for Phase 1 to be successful.
  4. Bring existing non-compliant, illegal and unlicensed MTHs into compliance or shut them down – as stated within Phase 1.
  5. Hold licensing for any new MTHs until Phase 1 is completed – as stated within Phase 2.
  6. Provide public quarterly statistical reporting on key performance indicators.
  7. Initiate a schedule of escalating fines; set clear criteria for reasons to revoke licenses.
  8. Nearing completion of Phase 1, present an Evaluation Report to City Council to decide on next steps, including accepting applications for new licenses.

We believe the implementation of these recommendations will ensure the success of Phase 1, which is what we all want.

We laud the City’s efforts to improve the MTH situation across the City since they offer an affordable housing option, but the City must approach this responsibly, placing the safety of tenants first and ensuring the City can adequately enforce the relevant by-laws.

We will review the Draft Report published on June 21 and prepare a follow-up eBlast with our comments on June 23.  An outline of a letter that you could modify to state your views will be provided in that eBlast.

 

 

Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-Tenant (Rooming) Houses

Multi-tenant houses (commonly known as rooming houses) are found today in certain parts of the city as part of the rental housing stock. The City licenses multi-tenant houses (MTHs) to ensure that they are safe and well-maintained.

The existing zoning and licensing regulations for multi-tenant houses in Toronto are inconsistent among the former municipalities. Currently, multi-tenant houses are only permitted in the former city of Toronto and some parts of the former cities of York and Etobicoke

Please note that Multi-tenant houses include Personal Care houses that would provide meals and additional support services to residents, such as housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation and medication storage.

The City is proposing the creation of a comprehensive city-wide zoning approach and enhancements to licensing and enforcement to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable multi-tenant houses across the city (all of York and Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Leaside and East York).

The proposed regulatory framework has four parts:

  1. Enhanced operator licensing requirements to promote health and safety
  2. An enforcement and compliance program
  3. City-wide zoning standards that permit the use across the city, and
  4. Initiatives to support tenants and maintain affordability of housing

Public consultation on the proposed regulatory framework is taking place in April and May 2021. Staff will be reporting back to the Planning and Housing Committee in mid-2021 with recommended zoning by-law amendments and a new regulatory by-law for multi-tenant houses.

Step 1:  Read about Multi-tenant Housing and the four parts of the Framework

Step 2:  Complete the Questionnaire.  The Questionnaire provides a lot more detailed information about the proposed plans.

Step 3:  If you are a Resident, Register to attend a Stakeholder Workshop on Tuesday, May 11 12:30-2:30 pm to obtain more information and to put forward your questions.

Step 4: If you are a Residents Association, Register  to attend a Stakeholder Workshop for RA’s on Monday, May 10 6:30-8:00 pm.

 

It is important to let your thoughts be known

Complete details of the proposed regulatory framework are available in a staff report on Creating the Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-Tenant Houses across Toronto which was considered by the Planning and Housing Committee on November 17, 2020.