Affordable housing, both for prospective homeowners and renters, is in very short supply across the province. The rise in house prices has been outpacing income increases across Canada in leaps and bounds, with most young Canadians viewing homeownership as a pipedream at this point. The median household income before taxes in Ontario (as of the 2016 census) was $74,260. In the same year, the average Ontario house price was nearly $550,000. The disparity between household income and house prices has only deepened since then, with the average Ontario house price currently at roughly $750,000. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the demand for housing across the province, and there is little indication that the market will cool in the short term.
On March 30, 2022, the Ontario Government tabled new legislation called the More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022, and published a technical briefing outlining the province’s plans to manage rising housing costs and to increase housing stock across the province.
Canada as a whole has been wading deeper and deeper into a national housing crisis since the 1990’s, with Ontario being one of the hardest hit provinces, along with British Columbia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered the way we experience and perceive our environments, with new considerations taking priority in what we expect from property owners and managers. Public health guidelines and city bylaws have been issued and updated regularly throughout the province since the onset of the pandemic, regulating the required measures to be put in place by building operators to keep staff and residents safe.
A long-term strategic capital expenditure plan should be the first line of defense in ensuring no unforeseen large capital expenses creep up on landlords. Not to be confused with operating expenditures (OpEx) such as wages, taxes, insurance, equipment maintenance, etc., a thorough CapEx plan should include information on assets which provide a long-term benefit to the landlord and tenants, such as structures (foundation, windows, parking lot resurfacing, etc.), equipment (computers, security systems, printers, etc.), and appliances (laundry machines, stoves, refrigerators, etc.).
In January 2020, the Ontario Ombudsman began an investigation into the extensive delays experienced at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). The Ombudsman had received about 1,200 complaints regarding the issue. The investigation is specifically looking at whether sufficient work is being done by Tribunals Ontario and the Attorney General to mitigate the backlog of cases.
The RTA specifies that a landlord is responsible for “vital services”, which are defined as cold and hot water, electricity, fuel, heat, and gas. The only exceptions to this rule would be those leases that state that the tenant expressly agrees to obtain these services and maintain them independently of their landlord. If a lease does not specify that a tenant is responsible for utilities, they cannot be made to pay for “vital services”, even if they cause a significant spike in utility charges.
The Ontario rent freeze will end on December 31, 2021. Landlords can increase rent as of January 1, 2022, if they have given the proper notice in writing (N1) at least 90 days prior. The province of Ontario has set the Rent Increase Guideline for 2022 at 1.2%.
Residential evictions were suspended on March 19, 2020 by the Ontario Superior Court, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only urgent evictions due to illegal activity or safety concerns were heard by the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) at this time, and hearing centres were closed to the public.