Redevelopment and intensification of an existing rental building is rarely without controversy. For residents, the loss of a home they may have lived in for decades is irreplaceable. Rental housing stock is incredibly important for the City to protect to ensure long-term housing affordability. As the City continues to receive new applications, this resource is to assist existing tenants in navigating this stressful process.
The City recognizes that protecting the existing rental housing stock was incredibly important to ensure renting was an attainable housing option for residents, especially seniors, students and families.
Unfortunately, the City cannot refuse a development application on the basis of hardship to existing tenants under provincial rules and public policy. While there are tenant protections under the Residential Tenancies Act, the City felt they were inappropriate to deal with the magnitude of rental housing stock under threat in Toronto. As such, protections were codified in the City’s Official Plan under our Housing policies (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199):
5. Significant new development on sites containing six or more rental units, where existing rental units will be kept in the new development:
a. will secure as rental housing, the existing rental housing units which have affordable rents and mid-range rents; and
b. should secure needed improvements and renovations to the existing rental housing to extend the life of the building(s) that are to remain and to improve amenities, without pass-through costs to tenants...
6. New development that would have the effect of removing all or a part of a private building or related group of buildings, and would result in the loss of six or more rental housing units will not be approved unless:
a. all of the rental housing units have rents that exceed mid-range rents at the time of application, or
b. in cases where planning approvals other than site plan are sought, the following are secured:
i. at least the same number, size and type of rental housing units are replaced and maintained with rents similar to those in effect at the time the redevelopment application is made;
ii. for a period of at least 10 years, rents for replacement units will be the rent at first occupancy increased annually by not more than the Provincial Rent Increase Guideline or a similar guideline as Council may approve from time to time; and
iii. an acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan addressing the right to return to occupy one of the replacement units at similar rents, the provision of alternative accommodation at similar rents, and other assistance to lessen hardship
The net effect is to try and ensure that when the building is completed, the previous rental units are functionally “replaced” in the new building, and with a tenant relocation and assistance plan available to help existing tenants financially while they choose whether or not to return to the new building.