Toronto eyeing Hamilton and its progressive new bylaw banning renovictions

Four Toronto councillors are asking that the City of Toronto’s planning and housing committee analyze how Hamilton’s new renovictions bylaw could be adopted by Toronto.

On Wednesday, Councillors Paula Fletcher, Mike Colle, Frances Nunziata, and Parthi Kandavel submitted a joint request letter to the committee to look at Hamilton’s Renovation and Tenant Relocation By-law, to look at how Toronto can crack down on renovictions.

A renoviction happens when a landlord gives a tenant an N-13 notice to end one’s tenancy because the landlord wants to demolish the rental unit, repair it, or convert it to another use.  Unfortunately, housing advocates say that this practice has been abused by some landlords as a means to raise the rent.

“An N-13 is supposed to be only used for renovations so substantial that a building permit is required and the unit must be empty to undertake them,” the councillors stated in the letter.

They added that—in the 2018–2022 term of City Council—a subcommittee was set up to deal with renovictions.

“Many tenants and advocates spoke about their experiences of not understanding their rights, of being pushed hard to leave their home despite no evidence that renovations were going to be substantial as well as being offered money to sign away their rights and leave,” the letter read, in part.

The councillors noted that there were many instances where tenants left, and while only cosmetic changes took place—the rent was doubled or tripled in the same apartment.

“Many tenants have been forced out of their long time homes and neighbourhoods where they actually had the right to stay.”

The councillors are stating that an N-13 eviction notice should be tied in some way to a building permit. But with the end of the 2022 term, the Committee ended without being able to advance this as a solution, which is why the councillors are urging the city to look at Hamilton’s new bylaw.

Hamilton is the first Ontario municipality to ban renovictions. Last month, the city passed a bylaw that would require landlords to obtain a renovation license from the city before commencing any renovation work that requires an N-13 notice to be issued to a tenant.

If tenants exercise their formal right to move back into the unit, Hamilton’s renovation license requires that the landlord provide the tenant with suitable relocation assistance and share this information with the City. This would also prompt the City to provide information to tenants about their rights and the N-13 process, such as how tenants can file a right of first refusal.

“The Hamilton By-law is a unique and innovative example of how City’s can protect renters,” the councillors letter state in their letter, concluding “We are seeking the Committee’s support to have the staff incorporate analysis of the Hamilton by-law into their upcoming report back on the renoviction by-law.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO