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Hamilton to strengthen tenant protections by adopting bylaw preventing ‘demovictions’

Click to play video: '‘Renovictions’: Can new bylaws help protect Canada’s renters?'
‘Renovictions’: Can new bylaws help protect Canada’s renters?
Amid an ongoing housing shortage, the idea of renoviction can be a worrying prospect for tenants. A renoviction is when a landlord evicts someone to make repairs or renovations to the unit that are so extensive it would make living in the unit uninhabitable for the duration, and thus requires the tenant to end their lease and move out. As Sean Previl explains, a new bylaw in Hamilton, Ontario could put a stop to that there and advocates say similar laws are needed nationwide. – Jan 21, 2024

The Ontario city that introduced a first-of-its-kind renoviction bylaw in the province is about to expand the protection and prevent landlords from evicting tenants so they can demolish apartments and turn the properties into condominiums.

Hamilton, Ont., is a step away from implementing a Rental Housing Protection By-law that will seek to preserve its supply of existing affordable housing by adding more conditions for landlords and developers seeking to take down midsize apartment buildings in exchange for towers as land values skyrocket.

The edict is similar to one in Toronto that the city has credited with saving some 3,500 rental apartments as of 2022, helping keep tenants in their affordable market units.

Dubbed as a “demoviction” bylaw, residential rental properties city-wide containing six or more rental units would require a permit from the City of Hamilton to demolish or convert rental properties.

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Conditions of that licence would require agreements for replacement units in a new development, providing tenant assistance including proof of notice informing them of the application and their rights under provincial legislation.

Displaced tenants would also get a set level of financial compensation, including aid with moving expenses.

Damien Ash, of ACORN’s downtown chapter, largely supported the bylaw, suggesting Hamilton could become a hotspot for demovictions in the next few years due to increased market demand for housing across the city.

“The outcomes of eviction and rent eviction are pretty similar: tenants get permanently displaced from their homes,” Ash explained to committee members.

“Yes, landlords are required to offer units back to tenants after rent evictions, but unfortunately, we have yet to see that once during seven years of organizing in Hamilton.”

Karl Andrus, who is with the Hamilton Community Benefit Network, also supported the measure but insisted the city “consider a few tweaks” for the future, submitting current rental subsidy calculations are not based on realistic numbers.

He says the city’s current calculation using Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s annual market rent figures doesn’t reflect the true cost of what an apartment costs today.

“Currently, CMHC shows a two bedroom … on average being $1,617,” Andrus said.

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“However Rentals.ca, an aggregate for current available market rental units, presently shows a two-bedroom at north of $2,100.”

The rental housing bylaw still needs ratification by the city council, which is expected on June 26.

Similar bylaws have also been enacted recently in Mississauga and Oakville.

Kitchener passed theirs at a committee meeting on Monday offering displaced renters a rent waiver, compensation or a replacement unit.

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