The Ontario government’s Fair Housing Plan, unveiled in the spring, created a number of initiatives and legislative changes in an effort to address various housing issues.
Much attention has been given to the Non-Resident Speculation Tax, a 15% tax on the purchase price of property in which a non-permanent resident or non-citizen (including non-resident corporations and trusts) acquire an interest.
The tax, aimed at attempting to cool down markets, applies to residential property with six or fewer units in the “Greater Golden Horseshoe”, an awkwardly named swath of southern Ontario which includes Brant and Haldimand but not Norfolk. There are some exemptions for refugees and rebates for those who become permanent residents or citizens within a prescribed time.
The Plan also includes amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act. One particular change is to the requirements allowing a landlord to terminate a residential tenancy for personal use (i.e., the landlord requires the unit for occupation by the landlord or by the landlord’s spouse or child or care service provider). The reasoning behind the change being that it was felt too often landlords were abusing (or able to abuse) this particular termination provision in order to be able to rent to new, higher rent paying tenants.
Landlords will still be required to give sixty days’ notice (before end of the term) in the prescribed form the unit is required for personal use but they will also have to either pay the tenant one month’s rent on or before the date set for termination as compensation or offer another unit acceptable to the tenant.
Landlord’s good faith person use must be for residential occupation of at least one year. Clarity will also be added in that the landlord has to be individual (not a corporation) and the unit at issue has to be owned in whole or in part by an individual. Personal use termination will not be available to landlords who own and lease their rental units through a corporation.
The amendments will also create a rebuttable presumption of bad faith on the part of a landlord if, at any time after notice is delivered to the tenant and following one year after tenant vacates, the unit is advertised for sale or for rent, converted to non-residential use or demolished or the landlord enters into a new lease for the unit.
Additional amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act include removal of Landlords ability to apply for rent increase on account of utility costs and that written leases will be in prescribed government form.
Adam Kowalsky is an associate at the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. For more articles, visit the library page at www.cobbjones.ca