Toronto’s renters can rest a little easier, thanks to a new motion passed in City Hall yesterday that bans renovictions. The practice is one that’s been increasingly reported in the city, and sees landlords kicking tenants out of rent-controlled units by claiming the property requires renovations, only to then turnaround and lease the unit at a higher price.

In Toronto, all properties that were constructed prior to November 2018 are protected through rent control measures whereby landlords can only legally raise rents each year by a standard guideline increase set each year by the Ontario government (in 2024, it's 2.5%). Meanwhile, landlords who own properties – houses, condos, apartments, etc. – built after November 2018 are theoretically free to raise their tenants' rent any amount they decide.

The city’s rent prices have climbed to new heights as of late, with tenants who are locked in to rent-controlled units knowing better than to leave. With the second-highest rents in Canada (behind the notoriously pricey Vancouver), one-bedroom rents in Toronto are now going for an average of $2,479, and two-bedrooms are at $3,284.

rentSign for rent at the front of a residential house. Investment property, affordable housing, real estate crisis

The City of Toronto turned its attention to Hamilton as an example of how the ban on renovictions could work. In Hamilton, landlords must get permission from the city before doing any renovations that would require tenants to move out.

A new Toronto bylaw would require landlords to apply for a renovation licence seven days before issuing a notice to a tenant, produce an engineer's report that details why it is necessary for tenants to move out while the home is undergoing renovations, that would then need to be approved by City staff.

The move comes one-year into Olivia Chow's role as mayor. Last June, as a mayoral frontrunner in the election, she said she would work to protect renters by targeting renovictions. The motion was approved in a 22-to-1 decision in City Hall yesterday. Staff will bring forward the bylaw to the planning and housing committee in October.