On April 6, 2023, the Ontario government introduced the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, which is intended to boost the province’s housing supply. While this piece of legislation is still working its way through the Ontario legislature and may be subject to change, understanding the proposed changes and how they intend to support Ontario’s homeowners, tenants, and landlords is important.

This article will explain everything you need to know about the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act. If you have questions or concerns about what these changes mean for you, be sure to contact an experienced real estate lawyer for additional guidance.

What is the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act?

The Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act is yet another effort from the Ontario government to advance its long-term goals to increase the province’s housing support and improve affordability. This Act will amend several existing pieces of Ontario legislation relating to housing and development.

The Ontario government has introduced several pieces of legislative measures over the past few years targeting the province’s housing supply, intending to create 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2031. These legislative measures are intended to make life easier for renters and homebuyers, and to streamline policies to increase the number of homes built in Ontario.

Key Changes in the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act

The Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act introduces several initiatives to support the Ontario government’s lofty goal of creating 1.5 million new homes by 2031. Some of the key changes proposed by the Act are set out below:

City of Toronto Act

Several changes are proposed for the City of Toronto Act, including:

  • Section 111 gives the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the power to regulate various matters, including the City’s authority under s. 111, and permits the City to demand that certain property owners provide payment or compensation;
  • Subsection 111(8) clarifies that the regulations established under s. 111 take precedence if there is a conflict;
  • Subsection 114(14.1) is revised to apply to plans and drawings received by the City of Toronto on or after July 1, 2023, and a new subsection 114(14.2) permits the cancellation of refunds for plans and drawings received before this date;
  • Subsection 114(14.3) gives the Minister the power to create regulations stating that the City is not required to refund fees for plans and drawings received after a certain date or during a particular time period; and
  • Subsection 114(15.2) requires the city clerk to forward any information or material provided by applicants to the Ontario Land Tribunal in the case of an appeal under subsection 114(15) or (15.1).

Development Charges Act

Under the Development Charges Act, a municipality can impose development charges against land to pay for increased capital costs. Minor changes to the Development Charges Act will expand the exemptions for development charges.

Municipal Act

Section 99.1 of the Municipal Act will be amended to give the Minister the power to create regulations that govern local municipalities’ powers relating to the demolition and conversion of residential rental companies. Certain municipalities will be authorized to require landowners to make payments or provide compensation in these situations.

Planning Act

Several changes are proposed for the Planning Act, including the following:

  • Subsection 1(1) redefines “area of employment” to exclude specific uses from being considered business and economic uses;
  • Subsection 34(10.12) is revised to apply to plans and drawings received by a municipality on or after July 1, 2023, and a new subsection 34 (10.13) permits the cancellation of refunds for plans and drawings received before this date;
  • Section 38 will reduce the time within which a clerk of a municipality must give notice of a bylaw made under ss. 38(1) or (2) and to establish a procedure for all parties to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal;
  • Subsection 41(1.2) will specify that constructing, erecting, or placing residential buildings or structures on a parcel of land constitutes “development” if the land is in a prescribed area.
  • Subsection 41(12.0.2) will indicate that the clerk must forward any information or material that an applicant must provide to a municipality under ss. 41(3.3) and (3.4) to the Ontario Land Tribunal in the case of an appeal to the Tribunal;
  • New subsection 47(4.0.1) will permit the Minister to exclude policy statements, provincial plans, and official plans from applying regarding a license, permit, approval, permission, or other matter required before a use permitted by the order may be established in an order made under ss. 47(1)(a); and
  • New section 49.2 will grant the Minister the authority to make an order requiring an owner of land to enter into an agreement with the Minister or a municipality in matters where the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator or the Deputy Facilitator has been directed by the Minister to advise, make recommendations, or perform other functions concerning the land.

Residential Tenancies Act

Several changes are proposed for the Residential Tenancies Act, including the following:

  • New section 36.1 allows tenants to use windows or portable air conditioners in their rental units if the landlord does not provide air conditioning. If the landlord is required to supply electricity, they may increase the rent unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise. This section also creates rules relating to rent decreases where a tenant stops using or removes an air conditioner;
  • Subsection 50(3) will require landlords to provide a report from a qualified person stating that extensive repairs or renovations requiring a building permit and vacant possession are necessary if they terminate a rental agreement for this purpose;
  • Section 53 will provide that if a tenant requests a right of first refusal for a unit after repairs or renovations, the landlord must provide specified notices when the unit is ready for occupancy. The tenant will have at least 60 days to exercise their right of first refusal and a landlord’s failure to comply with notice requirements will be deemed a failure to afford the tenant their right;
  • New subsection 57(6.1) will presume that a landlord has given a notice of termination in bad faith if a specified person fails to move in within a prescribed period after the previous tenant left; and
  • Section 238 increases the maximum fines for violations to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations.

What do These Changes Mean for Ontarians?

The Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act introduces key initiatives designed to help home buyers and tenants alike. As this bill makes its way through the legislature, landlords and tenants, in particular, will want to pay attention to the significant changes in rights and duties outlined in the proposed revisions to the Residential Tenancies Act. Furthermore, amendments to the Planning Act and Municipal Act appear to target developers specifically, making it easier than ever to push forward planning applications.

Time will tell what the outcome of the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act will bring for Ontarians – nevertheless, the proposed revisions offer interesting solutions amid Ontario’s ongoing housing crisis.

Contact the Real Estate Lawyers at Campbells LLP in Oakville for Advice on Commercial and Residential Real Estate Transactions

At Campbells LLP, our experienced team of real estate lawyers regularly monitor legislative changes and advise clients on how these changes may impact the responsibilities of buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Our firm provides a full range of legal services related to real estate transactions, including both residential real estate and commercial real estate matters. If you are looking to buy, sell, or rent a property, contact us online or call us at 905-828-2247 to learn how we can help you.