Item - 2020.PH18.2

Tracking Status

PH18.2 - Creating the Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-tenant Houses across Toronto

Decision Type:
ACTION
Status:
Amended
Wards:
All

Committee Decision

The Planning and Housing Committee:

 

1. Directed the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning in consultation with the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Fire Chief and General Manager, Toronto Fire Services, Chief Building Official and Executive Director, Toronto Building, the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat, and other Divisions as appropriate, to conduct city-wide public and stakeholder engagement on the proposed zoning standards to introduce city-wide permissions for multi-tenant housing, as outlined in the report (November 2, 2020) from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat.

 

2. Directed the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with other relevant divisions, to report back with recommended zoning by-law amendments and a new regulatory by-law for multi-tenant houses to the Planning and Housing Committee in mid-2021, along with an implementation plan to phase in the updated by-laws and a coordinated approach to compliance and enforcement.

 

3. Directed the Executive Director of the Housing Secretariat to include in the 2021 Multi-Tenant Houses Implementation Plan recommendations on an incentive program to assist eligible property owners in complying with Fire and Building Code requirements; a communications strategy to inform tenants and property owners of their rights and responsibilities; soft landing considerations for tenants potentially displaced by City enforcement measures; and an approach for ongoing interdivisional collaboration to ensure the successful implementation of this important affordable housing option.

 

4. Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with other relevant divisions, to consult directly with tenants of existing licensed and unlicensed Multi-Tenant Houses and tenant-service organizations to meaningfully capture and utilize their lived experience as part of the development of the City’s engagement strategy.
 

5. Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to include as part of consultation, specific outreach to students living in areas surrounding major post-secondary institutions.

 

6. Requested Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, as part of City-wide public and stakeholder engagement, to consider creating a series of discussion guides and a supportive dialogue process that allows people to learn before commenting and recognizes:

 

a. the unique concerns of neighbourhood residents, tenants and landlords so that each can meaningfully contribute their perspectives and ideas to proposed zoning standards; and

 

b. the regional differences across the city, so that residents of each Community Council area (Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Toronto/East York) can provide feedback that reflects their local concerns.

 

7. Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, to report back on how public and stakeholder engagement informed recommendations related to parking, number of rooms/dwelling units and owner-occupancy, as well as how recommendations account for differences in access to higher order public transportation and availability of on-street parking across the City.

 

8. Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with other relevant divisions, to explore and report back on the feasibility of a security deposit as part of licensing, such that if the operator fails to meet minimum property maintenance standards (including but not limited to grass cutting, snow clearing and garbage removal), the security deposit may be used to pay for remediation.

 

9. Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat, where possible, to estimate and report back on:

 

a. the fiscal impact to landlords to comply with proposed by-laws, licensing requirements and building codes;

 

b. the revenue that will be generated by licensing fees;

 

c. the cost of the proposed City-supported fiscal incentives;

 

d. the cost of enforcement of illegal multitenant homes; and

 

e. the cost of implementation and enforcement of new by-laws for multitenant homes.

Decision Advice and Other Information

The Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat gave a presentation on Creating the Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-tenant Houses across Toronto.

Origin

(November 2, 2020) Report from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat

Summary

This report proposes the creation of a comprehensive city-wide regulatory framework for multi-tenant houses, using a human rights lens and ensuring regulatory oversight to protect tenant life safety and create liveable, well-maintained and affordable places to live. This consistent, coordinated approach is the outcome of collaboration amongst several divisions and brings together work programs that are already underway with work that has more recently begun. The purpose of this report is to inform the Planning and Housing Committee of planned enhancements to the licensing and enforcement framework for multi-tenant housing and to obtain the endorsement of the Committee for a public engagement program that will inform final recommendations on regulations for multi-tenant houses. The final recommendations and proposed by-law amendments will be brought forward to the Planning and Housing Committee in 2021.

 

Multi-tenant houses, commonly known as rooming houses or lodging houses, are found across the city. Current zoning and licensing by-laws for multi-tenant houses are fragmented and have not been harmonized since amalgamation. Despite this lack of harmonization, people continue to operate unlicensed multi-tenant houses outside the areas permitted by zoning, which may result in inadequate and unsafe living conditions. The pathway to achieving safe, liveable and affordable multi-tenant houses starts with legalization, which then enables regulatory oversight and effective enforcement.

 

This report summarizes four components of a proposed regulatory framework:

 

1.  Enhanced operator licensing requirements to promote health and safety;

2.  A strategic inter-divisional enforcement and compliance program that will ensure effective enforcement of non-compliant operators;

3.  City-wide zoning standards that permit the use consistently and enable equal access to multi-tenant houses across the city; and

4.  Initiatives to support tenants and maintain affordability of housing.

 

Challenges in Regulating Multi-tenant Houses

 

The zoning and licensing rules for multi-tenant houses in Toronto are an inconsistent assortment of by-laws from the former municipalities that were not updated after amalgamation. They make the establishment of multi-tenant houses difficult, and do not adequately address the current need, nor the growing demand, for this type of affordable housing.

 

Multi-tenant houses cannot be licensed if the use is not permitted through zoning. However, people continue to operate multi-tenant houses outside the areas permitted by zoning, often without the appropriate permits or inspections. As a result, some operators fail to meet minimum requirements for property standards, nuisance mitigation, and the Fire and Building Codes, potentially endangering the health and safety of tenants and affecting communities. In situations where there are safety concerns and the use is not permitted, there are no opportunities for operators to upgrade their buildings as the City cannot issue building permits when the use is not permitted. In the last 10 years, just over 10% of all Toronto residential fire fatalities took place in multi-tenant houses. In total, 14 multi-tenant houses were involved in 15 fire fatalities and four serious injuries, and the majority took place in unlicensed multi-tenant houses.

 

Proposed City-Wide Regulatory Framework

 

The objective of a comprehensive city-wide regulatory framework for multi-tenant houses is to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable multi-tenant houses across the city.

 

This new regulatory framework includes an improved set of rules and standards; more rigorous and documented procedures and processes; a specialized and dedicated team; stronger inter-divisional partnerships; enhanced compliance measures; supports for tenants and operators; and a focus on outcomes for tenants and communities.

 

1. Enhanced Licensing Framework

 

City staff will also be bringing forward as part of a final report in 2021, the following proposed amendments to implement a new regulatory by-law with enhanced licensing conditions and standards.

  • Updating the definition of multi-tenant houses to ensure consistency and clarity, as well as support prosecutions of non-compliant operators;
  • New licensing requirements that enhance conditions for tenants, including a requirement for a property management plan that includes waste management, pest management, and a process for landlords to respond to tenant issues;
  • Requiring new applicants to apply for, and obtain a Zoning and a Building Permit review from Toronto Building where construction renovation and/or change of use approval is required to confirm compliance with applicable zoning by-laws and that the building meets the life safety requirements of the Ontario Building Code;
  • Requiring multi-tenant house operators to provide floor plans of the premises to City staff, in order to aid inspection and investigative efforts;
  • Requiring multi-tenant houses that contain 10 or more rooms or units to undertake an electrical inspection by a licensed electrical contractor;
  • Modernizing the appeal processes for the Rooming House Commission to improve transparency, accessibility, and quasi-judicial procedures; and
  • Identifying potential new proposals such as implementing a similar registration program to RentSafeTO; as well as mandatory insurance, cost recovery fee for re-accommodation of tenants, and requiring a vital services disruption plan.

In conjunction with Toronto Public Health, Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) will also bring forward proposed amendments for personal care multi-tenant houses, in order to improve health and safety conditions for tenants and also support enhanced enforcement against non-compliant operators. City staff will consult with personal care multi-tenant house operators, tenants, and members of the public on the proposed amendments.

 

2. Enforcement and Compliance Strategy

 

In developing its multi-tenant housing compliance and enforcement strategy, MLS is leveraging its experiences in delivering the RentSafeTO program through a dedicated team and planned and proactive inspections. This report outlines a four-pillar approach to address the challenges of compliance among operators, addressing neighbourhood nuisance issues, and promoting health and safety standards for tenants.

  • Inter-divisional strategic enforcement efforts, with a dedicated Municipal Licensing and Standards team, along with Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Building, Toronto Public Health and other divisional staff deployed as needed;
  • Education and outreach to identify unlicensed operators and notify them of by-law requirements, and education/support for tenants and communities on complaints process;
  • Compliance strategy including annual inspections of licensed multi-tenant houses and data-driven investigations of unlicensed operators; and
  • Enforcement strategy that will include increased fines, modernized multi-tenant housing tribunal, and undertaking remedial action to ensure by-law compliance.

3. Zoning

 

The proposed zoning approach would establish city-wide permissions for multi-tenant houses with zone-specific regulations such as maximum number of rooms, and minimum parking. It would also introduce harmonized definitions for multi-tenant house and dwelling room, and is intended to provide consistency, and fairness in permissions, and an approach that reflects needs and is straightforward to administer.

 

Expanded city-wide zoning permissions will enable more effective regulatory oversight by City staff, including proper licensing and proactive annual inspections to ensure Fire Code compliance, compliance with property and building maintenance standards and other health and safety issues, helping to ensure safer living conditions for tenants and increased compliance with nuisance by-laws. Without city-wide zoning permissions, there are no opportunities for operators to obtain permits to upgrade their buildings when life safety concerns are identified.

 

4. Housing Affordability and Supports for Tenants

 

The new framework may have significant cost impacts on some operators, particularly where operators are undertaking renovations to bring their property into conformance with the City's licensing requirements. Toronto Building, with the help of a Building Code Consultant, is exploring opportunities for alternative options for operators to achieve compliance with the fire and life safety requirements of the Ontario Building Code. The goal of this work is to provide greater certainty and transparency into the permit process, as well as reduce costs for property owners in achieving building code compliance. The Housing Secretariat is also considering ways to promote and support the safety and security of tenants with the aim of maintaining affordability of multi-tenant houses, including incentive programs.

 

Human Rights Lens and Maytree Foundation

 

The city-wide strategy for multi-tenant houses is the first City of Toronto policy to be developed using a human rights lens since the adoption of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. In December 2019, City Council adopted the Action Plan, which resulted in the updating of the Toronto Housing Charter. The new charter adopts a human rights-based approach to housing and commits the City to developing policy and programs that further the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing affirmed in international law. The Action Plan also requires City divisions to screen and assess any housing-related policy to ensure compliance with the new Charter.

 

The comprehensive regulatory framework for multi-tenant houses is informed by recent federal legislation, provincial legislation, and City policies and directives to further the progressive realization to the right to housing. It recognises tenants' rights to equitable, affordable, adequate, safe, accessible and secure homes while balancing the need for compliance and enforcement. An interdivisional staff team is coordinating their divisions' work programs, to ensure successful implementation for tenants, landlords and neighbours.

 

In the absence of a Housing Commissioner function, which the City has committed to establishing in the near term, the City engaged the Maytree Foundation to provide advice on how a human rights-based approach applies to multi-tenant housing considerations. The Maytree Foundation's review has informed this report.

 

Consultation Approach

 

Policy 5.5.1(c)(ii) of Toronto's Official Plan requires community consultation for proposed zoning by-law amendments, to ensure a fair, open and accessible public process. This report proposes that City staff engage the public and stakeholders to provide information about the proposed zoning approach, and obtain feedback on regulations such as parking rates and maximum number of rooms. This will build on previous consultations that have been held, but since this is the first time that staff will be consulting on a zoning approach that includes city-wide permissions and zone-specific regulations, additional consultation is required.

 

City staff will also conduct public and stakeholder engagement on personal care multi-tenant houses and additional licensing considerations not previously consulted on. Staff will report on the outcomes of the engagement and present final zoning and licensing recommendations in mid-2021.

 

A New Multi-tenant Housing Framework

 

The combination of a harmonized and updated zoning and licensing framework, an enhanced compliance and enforcement strategy, and supports for operators and tenants will represent a significant step towards providing safe, liveable, secure and affordable multi-tenant housing across Toronto and compliance with federal, provincial, and City human rights policies.

 

The efforts to maintain affordability, expand the zoning permissions, and introduce an updated licensing framework are aimed at encouraging operators to comply with the City's regulatory framework – and to support the goals of the strategic compliance and enforcement program.

 

In the final report back to the Planning and Housing Committee in 2021, a detailed and phased implementation plan for the overall regulatory framework will also be developed to identify how to effectively phase in the new licensing and zoning regulations using a streamlined, balanced, and coordinated approach.

 

This report has been prepared in consultation with Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Building, Legal Services, Shelter Support and Housing Administration, and Toronto Public Health.

Background Information

(November 2, 2020) Report from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat on Creating the Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-tenant Houses across Toronto
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158040.pdf
Attachment 1: Maytree Foundation Report
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158041.pdf
Attachment 2: Related City Initiatives
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158042.pdf
Attachment 3: Map of permitted areas for multi-tenant houses in Zoning By-law 569-2013 (Rooming House Overlay)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158043.pdf
Attachment 4: Overview of Current Zoning Regulations for Multi-Tenant Houses
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158044.pdf
Presentation from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-158567.pdf

Communications

(November 16, 2020) Letter from John Stapleton (PH.New.PH18.2.1)
(November 15, 2020) E-mail from Joy Connelly (PH.New.PH18.2.2)
(November 16, 2020) Letter from Forrest Parlee, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy, University of Toronto (PH.New.PH18.2.3)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123157.pdf
(November 17, 2020) Letter from Jonathan Robart, Senior Advisor, CERA - Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (PH.New.PH18.2.4)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123161.pdf
(November 17, 2020) Letter from Jonathan Robart on behalf of R2HTO (Right to Housing) (PH.New.PH18.2.5)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123162.pdf
(November 16, 2020) Letter from Peter Milczyn, Principal, PM Strategies Inc. (PH.New.PH18.2.6)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123163.pdf
(November 17, 2020) Letter from Kira Heineck, Executive Lead, Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness (PH.New.PH18.2.7)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123164.pdf
(November 17, 2020) Letter from Geoff Kettel and Cathie Macdonald, Co-Chairs, Federation of North Toronto Residents' Associations (PH.New.PH18.2.8)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123166.pdf
(November 16, 2020) Letter from Ijade Maxwell Rodrigues, Chief of Government and Community Relations, York University (PH.New.PH18.2.9)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ph/comm/communicationfile-123167.pdf

Speakers

Elizabeth McIsaac, Maytree
Kenneth Hale, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Benjamin James Pullia
Regini David, West Scarborough Community Legal Services
Laurie Fisher, Voices of Scarborough
John Stapleton
Terry Pariseau, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto
Barbara Hall
Melissa Goldstein
Kira Heineck, Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness
Alyssa Brierley, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
Jonathan Robart, Right to Housing in Toronto
Geoff Kettel, FoNTRA (Federation of North Toronto Residents' Associations)
Sean Galbraith
Councillor James Pasternak
Councillor Shelley Carroll

Motions

1 - Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Brad Bradford (Carried)

That:

 

1. The Planning and Housing Committee request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with other relevant divisions, to consult directly with tenants of existing licensed and unlicensed Multi-Tenant Houses and tenant-service organizations to meaningfully capture and utilize their lived experience as part of the development of the City’s engagement strategy.
 

2. The Planning and Housing Committee request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to include as part of consultation, specific outreach to students living in areas surrounding major post-secondary institutions.

 


2 - Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Carried)

That:

 

1. The Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, as part of City-wide public and stakeholder engagement, consider creating a series of discussion guides and a supportive dialogue process that allows people to learn before commenting and recognizes:

 

a. the unique concerns of neighbourhood residents, tenants and landlords so that each can meaningfully contribute their perspectives and ideas to proposed zoning standards; and

 

b. the regional differences across the city, so that residents of each Community Council area (Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Toronto/East York) can provide feedback that reflects their local concerns.

 

2. The Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, report back on how public and stakeholder engagement informed recommendations related to parking, number of rooms/dwelling units and owner-occupancy, as well as how recommendations account for differences in access to higher order public transportation and availability of on-street parking across the City.

 

3. That the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with other relevant divisions, explore and report back on the feasibility of a security deposit as part of licensing, such that if the operator fails to meet minimum property maintenance standards (including but not limited to grass cutting, snow clearing and garbage removal), the security deposit may be used to pay for remediation.

 

4. That the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat, where possible, to estimate and report back on:

 

a. the fiscal impact to landlords to comply with proposed by-laws, licensing requirements and building codes;

 

b. the revenue that will be generated by licensing fees;

 

c. the cost of the proposed City-supported fiscal incentives;

 

d. the cost of enforcement of illegal multitenant homes; and

 

e. the cost of implementation and enforcement of new by-laws for multitenant homes.


3 - Motion to Adopt Item as Amended moved by Councillor Ana Bail„o (Carried)

Vote (Adopt Item as Amended) Nov-17-2020

Result: Carried Majority Required
Total members that voted Yes: 6 Members that voted Yes are Ana Bail„o (Chair), Brad Bradford, Paula Fletcher, Jennifer McKelvie, Gord Perks, Kristyn Wong-Tam
Total members that voted No: 0 Members that voted No are
Total members that were Absent: 0 Members that were absent are
Source: Toronto City Clerk at www.toronto.ca/council