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Hamilton to pass Rental Housing Protection By-law for stronger tenant protections against demoviction and condo conversion - ACORN Canada

Hamilton to pass Rental Housing Protection By-law for stronger tenant protections against demoviction and condo conversion

Posted June 19, 2024

Hamilton, Ontario – Yesterday 15 ACORN Hamilton members attended the City of Hamilton Planning Committee in support of the proposed Rental Housing Protection Bylaw. The bylaw will aim to protect tenants in purpose built rentals when the landlord wants to pursue demolition or condo conversion.

In 2022 staff initiated a review of improvements to municipal policy to preserve existing affordable housing at risk of demolition or condo conversion. ACORN was a main stakeholder in the community consultation.

What to know about the by-law:

– Would apply to all residential rental properties city-wide containing 6 or more rental units.

– Would require landlords/developers to apply for a permit from the City to demolish or convert rental properties (called a section 99.1 permit).

– Would permit the City to attach conditions to a permit, such as requiring legal agreements for replacement units in a new development and providing tenant assistance (moving costs, rent top ups)

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

  • Improve 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 average market rent and their original rent – tenants will likely not be receiving 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 average new rents for a one bedroom is $1,806 while CMHC reports Hamilton average rents for a one bedroom at $1,501.
  • Make 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 what the fate will be of these units and are worried they will not be really affordable or will only be affordable for a certain amount of years.
  • Lastly, 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 Listing Bylaw. Rent top ups are an option for tenants displaced by renovations. This tenant support should be the same amount for both bylaws.

Four ACORN Hamilton members (Christine Neale, Damien Ash, Gord Smyth and Pauline Roberts) and three allies (Karl Andrus and Katie King from Hamilton Community Benefits Network and Merima Menzildzic from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic) delegated in person / virtual, plus three pre-recorded videos from ACORN Members Esther Stam, Kier Williamson and Susan McArthur. Ten members also submitted letters about their experience and/or support of the bylaw and our organization submitted a report with our full demands, case studies and overviews of demoviction protections in Burnaby, British Columbia and Toronto, Ontario.

In a unanimous 11-0 vote, the Planning Committee passed the new Rental Housing Protection Bylaw! We anticipate that amendments based on the feedback from ACORN and allies will be considered by City Council next Wednesday when the vote is ratified! There was agreement on the issue of inadequate rent top ups and support for having parity between the demoviction and renoviction tenant assistance requirements.

BIG shoutout to all the ACORN members that have worked on this campaign since 2022! Majority of ACORN’s demands for the rental replacement and tenant assistance were incorporated into the by-law! People power makes change happen!

Read our report submitted to the committee here

Link to staff reports