NDP still pushing to regulate ‘bad’ landlords

Many Ontario landlords were incensed once they learned NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo had introduced a private member’s bill earlier this year calling for a number of new regulations on rental properties. The bill ultimately died on the order paper once the session came to an end, but that hasn’t deterred DiNovo, who says she’ll continue her fight for tenants if she is re-elected in the fall.

“The major point of my rental bill was landlord licensing. That simply allows some clout at the ministerial level over landlords who refuse to comply with city ordinances,” she told CRE Online. “That kind of thing I may introduce, but it’s subject to our platform, so you’ll kind of just have to stay tuned.”

What she did say would be in the NDP platform is a commitment to provide more affordable housing in two ways: government-built housing for those in need and inclusionary zoning.

Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, she said, dropped the ball on this issue after promising to create 20,000 new affordable housing units each year, while only delivering 10,000 to 13,000.

“So for sure, you’re going to see government back in the housing business. Unlike the Liberals or the Conservatives, we’ll actually have shovels in the ground for projects that we want to do.”

New municipal power

The other way the NDP plans to ensure that the more than 150,000 people waiting for affordable housing for sometimes more than a decade get into a home soon, is through inclusionary zoning.

Right now under section 37 of the Ontario Planning Act, municipalities can ask developers to help the community by adding more park space in and around new developments, fixing street lamps and sidewalks, in exchange for higher height allowances and increased density for new buildings.  

Currently, municipalities cannot require developers to provide affordable housing. If they did, a developer could appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board and win. Rest assured, the NDP will fight to change that, DiNovo said.

“This is the cheapest, most tax-free – I mean there’s not one tax dollar involved here – way of providing affordable housing,” she said.

By using this type of legislative power, municipalities could prescribe that 10% of the units in a new development would be rent-to-owns, for example, so that those who could not afford the down payment for a new property could still buy a home, DiNovo said.

This type of zoning would allow for more vibrant, mixed-use communities, somewhat like what’s been happening in Regent Park, Toronto.

“It’s not prescriptive at all, it just allows the possibility for it. Many municipalities across Ontario are in favour of this, not all of them, but I would say a good 80% of them are in favour.”

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