Individuals who live in rooming houses are often vulnerable and may include households with low incomes, seniors on fixed incomes, newcomers to the city and students. As the city grows, development is placing pressure on the stock of existing dwelling rooms.

The City of Toronto’s Official Plan rental replacement policies and Municipal Code By-law for Rental Demolition and Conversion do not provide the ability to address the loss of rental housing that is in the form of dwelling rooms. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of dwelling rooms that are being lost due to redevelopment.

In response to these pressures, the Planning and Growth Management Committee asked City Planning to report on a policy framework that protects dwelling rooms similar to policies in the Official Plan that provide for the protection of rental units.

The City of Toronto is proposing a draft Official Plan Amendment with new policies to:

  • Address the loss of dwelling rooms due to redevelopment
  • Address the displacement of tenants who rent those dwelling rooms

The policies would require the same amount of dwelling room gross floor area to be replaced in the new development as rental housing and assistance provided to displaced tenants.

Typical asking rents in 2017 for shared housing such as dwelling rooms were approximately $735/month. This asking rent was determined though an analysis of units and rooms listed publicly for rent. By comparison, current Average Market Rents (AMRs) for Toronto for primary rental market units are $1,019 for a bachelor apartment and $1,202 for a one-bedroom apartment.

The draft Official Plan amendment proposes new policies that would address the requirement to replace dwelling rooms that would be lost as a result of development. Specifically, the draft policies would:

  • apply to development that would result in the loss of ten or more dwelling rooms
  • require the same amount of residential gross floor area to be replaced and maintained as either rental units or dwelling rooms
  • require that rents for the replacement housing have rents similar to those in effect at the time of the development application for a period of at least 25 years with a five-year phase-out
  • require an acceptable tenant relocation and assistance plan, including addressing the right to return to replacement housing
  • require assistance for displaced tenants to lessen hardship for tenants when development would result in the loss of one or more dwelling rooms

The draft policies to address the loss of dwelling rooms are also contained within the TOcore: Planning Toronto’s Downtown which was adopted with amendments by Planning and Growth Management Committee at their meeting of May 1, 2018 and by City Council at its meeting of May 22, 23, 24 and 25, 2018.