Millions of Canadians rent, but they have been left out by federal campaign promises

Millions of Canadians rent, but they have been left out by federal campaign promises

Signs for apartments that can be rented in a building on Isabella St. 55 in Toronto, photographed January 28, 2021.

Fred Lum / The Globe and Mail

Tenants have largely been left out by federal election campaign promises to make housing more affordable, even though a growing portion of Canada’s population rents and struggles to pay.

The three leading federal parties have each proposed building more homes and making it easier for Canadians to buy property by reducing monthly mortgage payments. But they just have a handful of policies that would help millions of tenants.

“Most of the major party platforms focus primarily on making home ownership more accessible. None of the party platforms go far enough to address the housing crisis as it pertains to tenants, ”said Douglas Kwan, director of legal services for the Advocacy Center for Tenants Ontario.

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The lack of affordable housing has become a major problem ahead of Monday’s federal election.

The Liberal Party has vowed to stop so-called renovations, where landlords throw tenants out claiming to move themselves or a family member into a unit, but instead turn the property into a short-term rent, or renovate and increase the rent for the next tenant. The party also said it would revise the taxation of business owners such as Mutual funds in real estate and prevent them from making excessive profits from rent.

The Conservatives promise they would defers capital gains taxes on the sale of a rental property if that landlord buys another property for rent. NDP has proposed to build 500,000 affordable homes over 10 years, as well as provide up to $ 5,000 a year to tenants in need.

“A rental solution should be a big part of any house price management program, and that’s unfortunately not in the discussion,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets. “We have not seen much aimed at more supply in the rental space.”

Tenants are under pressure in Canada’s active housing market as owners want to monetize

The rental housing market is heating up again – a worrying sign of affordable prices

More than 30 percent of Canadian households rent according to the 2016 census. That percentage is expected to rise as house prices rise and push more potential buyers out of the market.

The typical nationwide house price reached $ 736,600 in August, up 21 percent year-over-year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s house price index, which adjusts for price volatility.

Rents are also increasing. The national average monthly rent for a two-bedroom room was $ 1,165 last fall, up from $ 1,113 in 2019, according to a study by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. And it was with many tenants who left downtown Toronto and Vancouver, the two most expensive cities for housing.

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Today, the demand for rental housing is growing, with students and workers returning to city centers. Industry research group Urbanation says the average monthly rent in Toronto was $ 2,359 in the second quarter of this year.

Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s city program, said he is surprised the lack of policy for tenants.

Yan analyzed the federal election results in 2019 and the house ownership per. Riding. That Average ownership in conservative clearings was 76 percent; for the Liberal Party it was 65 per cent. 59 percent in NDP clearings; The Green Party of 71 percent and 69 percent to the block Quebecois.

Although tenancy laws are in the province’s jurisdiction, Yan said there is a role for the federal government. For example, he said Ottawa could make it easier for renters to save for a home, such as raising the limits on money they can collect in their RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts.

Although thousands of homes are being built in Toronto, southern Ontario and other major markets, the majority are not specifically for rent, also known as custom-built rentals. Last year, just 31 percent of the 202,655 housing starts across Canada were rentals, according to CMHC data for regions with at least 10,000 residents.

In Ontario, 14 percent of the 78,916 new buildings were leased. In Toronto, the country’s largest labor market, 15 percent of the 38,587 housing starts were rent, CMHC said.

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The three major federal parties, the real estate industry and many economists say a greater supply of housing is needed to help meet demand. All three parties have promised to build more, but there is not much funding set aside for homes with rents below the market.

“Unless homes are specifically built to be affordable, there is no reason to believe that rental prices will fall significantly given the scale of the oversupply,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief planner who now runs her own rental development company.

The Liberals are proposing to build or repair 1.4 million homes over four years and set up a $ 4 billion fund for incentive cities to speed up their housing plans. The Conservatives are proposing to build a million homes over three years.

It is unknown whether the party leaders have experience as tenants. Globe and Mail asked the three parties about their leaders, the Conservatives’ Justin Trudeau, Conservatives Erin O’Toole and NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, owned a home, owned more than one property and last time they were tenants.

The Conservatives said O’Toole owned his house but did not answer the other questions. The two others the parties did not answer the questions.

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