Rental Housing Protection Policy Review

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Rental housing is a key part of the City's housing continuum and is a significant contributor to affordable housing options in the City. In addition to initiatives that create new affordable housing, it is important to maintain existing affordable units. This is one of the reasons why municipalities include policies in Official Plans that limit conversions of rental housing to condominium (ownership) tenure, and that limit rental demolitions, to maintain the limited supply of these units.

The City has recently undertaken a review of its rental housing protection policies in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan and is proposing changes to its policy and planning process framework surrounding conversions of primary rental housing to condominium tenure and demolitions of primary rental housing. Policy changes proposed are intended to establish appropriate limitations to manage change and ensure protection for existing affordable rental housing units.

The City is also proposing to establish a permit process for conversions and demolitions by passing a by-law under the Municipal Act. This is intended to be used as a tool to implement the Official Plan directions. The permit process has been identified as a key part of the City's strategy that could strengthen protections for rental housing and provide a consistent process for applications to convert or demolish rental housing.It would also permit the City to attach conditions to a permit, such as requiring legal agreements for replacement units in a new development, providing tenant assistance, and other conditions.

We Need Your Input

Staff are collecting feedback on the proposed changes and would like to hear what you think.

Please review the description of the proposed changes, the draft Official Plan amendments and the draft Municipal Act By-law before providing comments. Comments must be submitted by Friday, November 4 to be included in the staff report.


Prefer to submit feedback via email? Written comment submissions may also be sent by email to Justin.Waud@hamilton.ca.

Rental housing is a key part of the City's housing continuum and is a significant contributor to affordable housing options in the City. In addition to initiatives that create new affordable housing, it is important to maintain existing affordable units. This is one of the reasons why municipalities include policies in Official Plans that limit conversions of rental housing to condominium (ownership) tenure, and that limit rental demolitions, to maintain the limited supply of these units.

The City has recently undertaken a review of its rental housing protection policies in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan and is proposing changes to its policy and planning process framework surrounding conversions of primary rental housing to condominium tenure and demolitions of primary rental housing. Policy changes proposed are intended to establish appropriate limitations to manage change and ensure protection for existing affordable rental housing units.

The City is also proposing to establish a permit process for conversions and demolitions by passing a by-law under the Municipal Act. This is intended to be used as a tool to implement the Official Plan directions. The permit process has been identified as a key part of the City's strategy that could strengthen protections for rental housing and provide a consistent process for applications to convert or demolish rental housing.It would also permit the City to attach conditions to a permit, such as requiring legal agreements for replacement units in a new development, providing tenant assistance, and other conditions.

We Need Your Input

Staff are collecting feedback on the proposed changes and would like to hear what you think.

Please review the description of the proposed changes, the draft Official Plan amendments and the draft Municipal Act By-law before providing comments. Comments must be submitted by Friday, November 4 to be included in the staff report.


Prefer to submit feedback via email? Written comment submissions may also be sent by email to Justin.Waud@hamilton.ca.

  • Public Information Meeting

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    A virtual Public Information Meeting was held on October 5, 2022 at 7pm.

    Question & Answer Summary from Meeting

  • Existing Policies

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    The City’s Urban Hamilton Official Plan contains policies about Rental Housing Protection in Volume 1, Chapter B. These policies speak to both conversions and demolitions of primary rental housing.

    Conversions

    1. Existing policies allow for conversion under 4 possible scenarios:

    • All of the following four conditions are met:
    • The rental vacancy rate by dwelling unit and structure type for the City and the respective local housing market zone has been at or above 2.0% for the preceding twenty-four months;
    • The proposed conversion must not reduce the rental vacancy rate by dwelling unit type (i.e. number of bedrooms) and structure type (i.e. townhouse, multiple dwelling) to below 2.0% for the City and the respective local housing market zone;
    • The existing market rent levels for the units proposed to be converted are not significantly (approximately 10%) below the average market rent levels for the City and the respective local housing market zone for rental units of a similar dwelling unit and structure type and size; and,
    • For vacant rental units, the last market rent levels charged prior to vacancy for the units proposed to be converted were not significantly (approximately 10%) below the average market rent levels at the time for the City and the respective local housing market zone for rental units of a similar dwelling unit and structure type and size;”

    OR

    2. At least 75% of the current tenants support the conversion to condominium;

    OR

    3. The subject building or group of buildings is a protected heritage property.

    OR

    4. A conversion may be permitted where repair or retrofitting is immediately required to meet health and safety standards and the income received from rent and available from government funding programs is not capable of supporting the work required.

    Demolitions

    Demolitions may be permitted if the criteria described in scenario 1 above are met, or if a building is determined to be structurally unsound.

    In the downtown, demolitions are only permitted when rental housing units are replaced on-site. Developers are also required to provide an acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan to address tenant displacement issues. (Downtown Secondary Plan Policies)

  • Proposed Changes

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    There are several changes proposed:

    1. The Official Plan criteria that need to be met for conversions or demolitions of rental housing are proposed to be simplified by removing some of the detailed text about specific vacancy rates and market rent levels. Detailed numbers and requirements would be relocated within a Municipal Act By-law instead. Official Plan changes would be held in abeyance until a by-law under the Municipal Act comes into effect.
    2. An additional requirement is proposed that the overall City-wide vacancy rate must be above three percent for the previous consecutive 24-month period, in addition to a vacancy rate of 2% for the specific unit type and local housing market zone across a 24-month period;
    3. The permission allowing a conversion of a rental building to condominium if 75 percent of tenants are in agreement is proposed to be removed.
    4. An additional permission is proposed to be added which may permit a demolition if the landowner demonstrates that rental housing units will be replaced by units of the same type (i.e. with the same number of bedrooms) either on-site, off-site in a comparable location within the same local housing market zone, or through a cash-in-lieu payment. An acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan would be required in addition to replacement. This would provide an option that allows intensification projects to take place, meeting Provincial and City policy goals for intensification, while still protecting rental housing stock and tenants; and,
    5. A new by-law is proposed to be enacted under the authority of the Municipal Act to regulate all conversions and demolitions of six or more rental units through a permit process. This would augment the current condominium conversion application process and also regulate demolitions. Detailed criteria for vacancy rate levels and market rent levels would be established in the by-law to ensure that proposed conversions or demolitions do not adversely impact the City’s current stock of affordable rental units. The By-law would also describe the types of conditions that the City may attach to a permit approval.


    View the full Draft Official Plan Amendment

    View the full Draft Municipal Act By-law

Page last updated: 24 Nov 2022, 01:22 PM