Multi-tenant houses (MTH) are an important form of affordable housing in Toronto. MTH are legally permitted only in limited areas of the City under current zoning and licensing by-laws. Unlicensed MTH continue to operate to meet demand, and some can present inadequate and unsafe living conditions for tenants, as well as nuisance and community safety issues.
In July 2022, the Planning and Housing Committee considered an MTH Regulatory Framework to encourage the creation of licensed multi-tenant houses city-wide, protect existing houses and improve safety for current residents and neighbours (PH35.22). The Committee requested staff bring forward a public consultation plan to its first meeting of 2023 and report back on outstanding work items and a work program for a MTH Regulatory Framework no later than the first quarter of 2023.
The proposed city-wide MTH regulatory framework supports the strategic objectives of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and furthers the City’s commitment in the Housing Charter to advance the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing. It would help ensure affordable housing options are available throughout Toronto to help meet the needs of low- and moderate-income people.
In July and October 2021, City Council considered a report from multiple Divisions recommending a MTH regulatory framework using a human rights-based approach (PH25.10).
The proposed framework included:
At its meeting in October 2021, City Council referred the item back to staff, requesting that the City Manager work with City Planning, Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Housing Secretariat and the Chief Communications Officer to report back to the Planning and Housing Committee in 2022 on a list of 14 work items. The July 2022 report followed up on this Council request and work has continued.
Staff were first directed to review the feasibility of permitting MTH in all residential zones in 2008. A summary of City Council decision history related to MTH is outlined in a staff report considered by Council in October 2021 (PH25.10).
Since 2014, the City has held four phases of public and stakeholder engagement on MTH, including targeted consultations on the proposed MTH regulatory framework in April and May 2021. The feedback received from all consultations informed the staff report outlining the proposed city-wide regulatory MTH framework.
Expanding where MTH are permitted in Toronto to encourage and regulate safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable housing aligns with Strategic Action 14 of the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan: Increase Access to Affordable Housing. Enhancing Partnerships with Indigenous Community Partners is also a key strategic priority in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.
The City and Indigenous partners have co-developed a plan to approve 5,200 new affordable and supportive homes ‘for Indigenous by Indigenous’ by 2030 with Federal and Provincial support. Expanding multi-tenant homes across the City is one of the ways the City can work with Indigenous partners to provide diverse range of housing opportunities, including affordable and supportive homes, for Indigenous communities.
A segment of MTH provides deeply affordable homes for some of the city’s lowest-income households, many of whom are from equity-deserving groups. This population is affected by the redevelopment of low-end-of-market rental housing, as often there are no other private market rental options available.
The proposed MTH framework uses a human rights lens and enables regulatory oversight to protect tenant safety and support liveable, well-maintained and affordable complete communities. Zoning standards that reflect this approach would help equity-deserving groups and vulnerable populations maintain access to their communities and preserve the diversity of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
Director, Zoning and Secretary-Treasurer, Committee of Adjustment, City Planning
Director, Policy and Strategic Support, Municipal Licensing and Standards Division
Director, Housing Secretariat