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Hamilton City Council implements ACORN’s demands with ratification of new Rental Housing Protection By-law - ACORN Canada

Hamilton City Council implements ACORN’s demands with ratification of new Rental Housing Protection By-law

Posted June 27, 2024

On Wednesday, June 26th, Hamilton’s new Rental Housing Protection Bylaw, passed at last week’s Planning Committee, was ratified by City Council in a unanimous 14-0 vote. The bylaw will introduce protections against demolition and condo conversion for tenants in purpose-built rentals. An amending motion to defer the Tenant Relocation and Assistance Guideline, based on feedback from ACORN’s submission and delegates last week, also passed 14-2.

ACORN strongly supports the Rental Housing Protection Bylaw but requested a few changes to ensure maximum protection for tenants:

tickedImprove how rent top-ups are calculated (our recommendation: use average market rent for units of the same type that have turned over in the last 3 years across the city OR follow Toronto’s example of only including rents from units constructed in 2015 or later). If we only use the difference between CMHC’s average market rent and their original rent, tenants will likely not receive enough of a rental top-up to afford housing while waiting to exercise their first right of refusal in the new development). For example, the Hamilton Spectator reported on June 18th that the average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,806, while CMHC reports Hamilton’s average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,501.

untickedMake replacement units truly affordable forever. We need to ensure that both units occupied by tenants exercising their first right of refusal and replacement units occupied by new tenants have the same rents before the redevelopment and are rent-controlled in perpetuity (forever!). After reading the staff reports, we are not totally clear about the fate of these units and are worried they will not be genuinely affordable or will only be affordable for a certain number of years.

untickedLastly, if improvements are made to rent top-ups for the Rental Housing Protection Bylaw, similar changes should be made for the Renovation License and Relocation Bylaw. Rent top-ups are an option for tenants displaced by renovations. This tenant support should be the same amount for both bylaws.

The amendment will allow City staff additional time to determine a more appropriate method of calculating rental top-up payments without delaying the bylaw’s implementation. Staff are due to report back with the recommended changes before the bylaw takes effect on January 1st, 2025.

A big shoutout to all the ACORN members who have worked on this campaign since 2022! Most of ACORN’s rental replacements and tenant assistance demands have already been incorporated into the by-law! We eagerly await further improvements to rental top-ups based on our feedback and look forward to seeing the positive impact these changes will have on tenants. People power makes change happen!