Ontario's New Fair Housing Plan - The Good and the Bad

But the average price of Vancouver residential property rose from around $949,000 in February to about $960,000 in March, a 1.2 per cent increase, according to data released Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. Mayor John Tory said he welcomed numerous measures the Premier announced on Thursday, including the tax on foreign speculators.

The plan has a number of initiatives aimed at the rental market with the biggest being the province's decision to expand rent control to all units built after 1991. It will also introduce a C$125 million ($93 million) five-year program to encourage apartment construction.

The province has also promised new rules that will make it harder for a landlord to kick out a tenant for the "landlord's own use" along with a standard lease form with explanatory information in multiple languages.

A plan to look at practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market, such as "paper flipping" - a practice that includes entering into a contractual agreement to buy a residential unit and assigning it to another person prior to closing.

Rules for real estate agents will also be reviewed, including practices such as double ending, where the agent represents both the buyer and the seller.

The 16-point strategy includes measures such as a proposed 15 per cent foreign buyers tax, an opportunity for municipalities to tax vacant homes, and perhaps most importantly, sweeping rent control measures that will be felt particularly heavily in the GTA, where some steep hikes in monthly rents have forced some tenants from their homes. "I am pleased that the government will activate surplus provincial land like the West Don Lands to create new affordable housing, something I have been urging the Premier to do for some time". The price increases reflect confidence in Ontario's economy, but when young people can not afford homes "we know we have a problem and we know we have to act", she said.

The gathering in Toronto comes as the Ontario government readies to unveil a much-anticipated package of housing affordability measures.

The government is also planning to expand the province's existing rent control system to cover all tenants, ending the exemption that now allows unlimited rent increases, it added.

"We are open to global investment", Trudeau said in Toronto during an interview with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.

The government's plan to match residential tax rates with multi-unit residences will make it easier for landlords to offer affordable rents and for condo builders to contain prices, said De Silva of the Board of Trade.

Tal said the drop was due to domestic buyers waiting to see what the impact of the tax would be, but they are now back in the market. Once legislation passes, the tax would be retroactively applied to 21 April. "At the same time, we recognise the need to protect the significant investment homeowners have made".

By exempting students from the NRST the province is intentionally keeping a door open to allow worldwide speculators to buy up single family homes in their children's names - at the expense of tax paying residents who can't compete.

- A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.

New measures are also being introduced by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), set to be implemented on May 15th. "Intervention in a cyclical market like housing is often fraught with peril as policies must be able to work in a strong and weak markets".

  • Zachary Reyes