Canada: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne introduces Fair Housing Plan


Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberals are widely expected to reveal housing policy measures when Sousa issues his budget on April 27. While this is good news, our government has become increasingly concerned about rapidly rising rents and housing prices, and their impact on the many people looking to find a home. "With the tax, we are targeting people who aren't looking for a place to raise a family, they are only looking for a quick profit".

Toronto prices rose 33 percent in March from a year earlier and the average price of a detached home topped C$1.2 million ($903,000) last month.

Wynne said she would not rule out other measures if she sees the need.

The Ontario government is considering a tax on non-resident speculators as it looks for ways to cool the hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area.

The province promises to introduce legislation that would enable Toronto and other cities to introduce a vacant home tax on empty homes.

The tax is one of more than two dozen measures introduced on Thursday and aimed at injecting affordability into the region's housing market.

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Ontario's Fair Housing Plan would also expand rent control to all private rental units, including those built after 1991, strengthening protections for tenants against sudden, dramatic rent increases.

While this is a great policy for tenants in the short term it's not a great policy for our rental market as a whole because it will likely result in fewer rental units in the years ahead - and even higher rents. The premier said officials are taking aim at speculators and are tackling affordability.

The government doesn't keep statistics on the number of foreign buyers. A similar measure introduced in Vancouver previous year had an nearly immediate impact on that city's red-hot housing market, significantly cooling demand by speculative buyers from overseas. CMHC will be expanding its affordable housing flexibilities to existing rental properties such as social housing projects with up to 5 years remaining in the Operating Agreement, which previously only applied to new rental properties.

Wynne says the plan will make buying or renting a home a fairer and more affordable process for residents in Ontario.

"I'm glad that, hopefully, in the future people are not going to be in our situation", he said.

The provincial announcement comes amid fears that Toronto's red-hot real estate market is fuelled in part by foreign speculation. She said that poses a challenge for locals bidding for houses that are selling for hundreds of thousands over the asking price. Royal LePage's latest House Price Survey released Wednesday shows home values for the region declined on a quarterly basis for the first time since 2013.

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"The landlord's use thing is going to be very, very important", said Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations.

The solution from Vancouver, on the west coast, was to impose a foreign buyer tax.

If you think the cost of real estate in Vancouver is too high, check out what's happening in Toronto.

Housing prices in the Toronto area have risen around 30% in the past year and that's following many years of strong increases.

"Instead of attempting to outbid buyers on semidetached homes, we've had to adjust our strategy to look for pre-build condos".

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