The Globe and Mail reports that some aspects of Vancouver’s foreign-buyers regulation have been embraced in Greater Toronto’s “Golden Horseshoe” the area from Peterborough to the Niagara region that houses a population of over 9.25 million people.
Effective today a new measure similar to Vancouver’s foreign-buyers tax will apply to buyers who are not Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Foreign companies will also not be exempt. The tax will be 15 per cent of the value of the purchase in a market that already has 8 per cent of home owners being non-residents. Those folks will also need to prove “ that they have a legitimate reason for buying property in Ontario that goes beyond investing. The tax is not aimed at new Canadians, according to Premier Kathleen Wynne. It will be reimbursed to buyers who become permanent residents within four years of a sale, and won’t apply to international students enrolled full-time for at least two years or someone who has been legally working in Ontario for at least one year. To qualify for a rebate, the property must also be considered someone’s principal residence.”
What is also interesting is that Ontario is planning to bring all rental apartments under rent control, meaning that rent hikes will be held “around inflation, and capped at 2.5 per cent a year, although landlords can still apply for special increases if they do renovations or upgrades. Rents can be raised when a tenant moves out.” Lease agreements are going to be standardized, and provisions when tenants could be vacated if the landlord wanted to move in are being tightened, with compensation now required for such lease termination.
Ontario has also announced a $125 million dollar program to rebate development cost charges to boost new apartment building construction, targeting areas where housing need is greatest. Powers for a vacant home tax enactment are also being given to the City of Toronto and other municipalities with housing shortages. The challenge of “paper flipping”, called “assignments” in British Columbia is also being investigated where titles of condominium units are sold with a market lift prior to the occupancy permits being granted.
These are measures towards providing housing affordability and accessibility in a market that is “saturated with families…who are not able to buy and are forced to rent indefinitely.” Diverse development is needed to accommodate a range of different family types and household sizes and incomes.
These are major changes in acknowledging the need for housing affordability and accessibility to appropriate housing-but is it too little too late for Toronto?