housing plan

Ontario cracking down on ‘bad actors’ driving up the costs of housing

On Wednesday, the Ontario government introduced legislation to crack down on speculators who are driving up the costs of housing. The More Homes for Everyone Act, if passed, should also protect homebuyers from predatory development practices and create more housing options by accelerating development timelines to get more homes built faster.

“Our government is cracking down on bad actors and defending future homeowners from unethical and egregious practices, ensuring developers looking to make a quick buck will think twice before trying to take advantage of hard-working Ontarians,” Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, said in a statement.

Highlights of the act include:

  • Increasing the non-resident speculation tax rate to 20%, closing loopholes to fight tax avoidance, effective March 30, 2022. The tax applies to homes purchased anywhere in Ontario by foreign nationals, foreign corporations, or taxable trustees.
  • Strengthening consumer protections for purchasers of new homes (i.e., by doubling fines and extending building license suspensions to address unethical conduct by developers; ensuring penalties for cancelled projects are aligned with the impact on homebuyers). The government is also proposing to enable Tarion (a not-for-profit consumer protection organization) to extend warranties on unfinished items in a new home.
  • Supporting municipalities with resources to provide timely review and adjudication processes (e.g., by extending legislated timelines for decisions).
  • Creating a new tool to accelerate planning processes for municipalities—the Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator will help municipalities expedite approvals for housing and community infrastructure (e.g., hospitals and community centres), with clear requirements.
  • Investing more than $19 million to help the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) and the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their backlogs, appoint new adjudicators, have resources on hand for mediation, and resolve land use planning and tenant and landlord disputes more quickly. The OLT will also ideally be able to expand its digital offerings/provide more e-services.
  • Holding consultations on the concept of a multi-generational community, to implement multi-generational homes on the ground across different types of municipalities.
  • Making it easier to build more community housing by making better use of provincially-owned lands for non-profit housing providers.

Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (who introduced the bill) said in a statement that the government is committed to introducing an update to Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan every year over four years, beginning in 2022–2023, in partnership with municipalities and sector associations, to deliver long-term solutions for all Ontarians.

“Through consultations with the public, the first-ever Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit, and the Housing Affordability Task Force, we heard that speculative behavior in the market and long, drawn-out approval processes are making it too difficult for Ontarians to realize the dream of home ownership. Our government’s plan proposes smart, targeted measures to protect consumers, and make the process work better and faster, help more Ontarians find the home that’s right for them and their families,” said Clark. “However, there is no silver bullet to addressing the housing crisis. It requires a long-term strategy with long-term commitment and coordination at all levels of government. We are committed to introducing an update to Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan every year over four years in partnership with municipalities and sector associations and deliver long-term solutions for all Ontarians.”

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