Eight months after Toronto City Council instructed staff to compile a new report on the feasibility of legalizing rooming houses city-wide, the Planning and Housing Committee is now wondering where that report is.

Councillor Gord Perks brought forward a motion during Tuesday's meeting, requesting that the City Manager report to the committee's next meeting with the new regulatory framework for rooming houses. The motion was adopted, meaning the City can expect to see the latest plans for legalizing this type of housing in just a matter to weeks.

Rooming houses, also called multi-tenant houses, are characterized by four or more people renting rooms while sharing a kitchen and/or washroom. They're currently allowed in some parts of the city, with regulations varying from area to area. In the former city of Toronto, for example, they are allowed but need to be licensed. In York, they are permitted but no license is required. East York, North York, and Scarborough, on the other hand, do not allow any multi-tenant houses.

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The City of Toronto itself has identified multi-tenant housing as an important part of the affordable rental housing market, noting on their website that it "provides single-room accommodation to diverse communities, including students, seniors, new immigrants, and low/moderate income residents." But when a motion was brought before City Council in July of last year seeking to legalize and regulate rooming houses across all of Toronto, Mayor John Tory moved to delay the vote out of fear that it would not pass.

At the time, City staff had put together a regulatory framework for legalizing rooming houses that included regulations like limiting the number of dwelling rooms to six, and implementing parking and washroom requirements. It also recommended the creation of a multi-housing tribunal and a new enforcement and compliance team that would carry out annual inspections. But when it came time to vote, Tory said he needed time to speak with other council members and get a "majority agreement."

When the issue came up again several months later during an October Council meeting, Tory once again deferred the vote, stating that the proposal was still too divisive to move forward on and that "we still have work to do on the overall framework." Staff were asked to reconsider and rework parts of the proposal, including the parking rules and the number of enforcement staff due to lack of enforcement concerns among councillors. They were asked to report back to Council in 2022. But now, five months into the year, no updates have been given.

"Each individual in our city has the right to safe and affordable housing," reads the recently-passed motion written by Perks. "In 2021, staff brought forward a report that proposes the creation of a comprehensive city-wide regulatory framework for multi-tenant houses, one of the most affordable forms of housing, to respond to calls for deeply affordable and safe housing in all parts of the city. With that in mind, I am writing to inquire as to the status of PH25.10 A New Regulatory Framework for Multi-tenant Houses."

The Planning and Housing Committee's next meeting will take place on July 5.

Affordable Housing