What is “Affordable Housing”?

To support the increase in supply of affordable housing in the City of Toronto (the City), enacted City of Toronto By-law No.124-2016, which defines “Affordable Housing” for the purpose of the bylaw and all municipal housing facility agreements as follows:

  • For rental housing, affordable housing includes housing in which monthly occupancy costs are equal to or below the average city-wide market rents.

In exchange for providing affordable housing, developers/landlords can receive property tax exemptions and other incentives to lower their operating costs and thus improve their financial viability. This guide provides an overview of developer requirements for the affordable rental housing, laid out as follows:

For a complete list of terms, see By-law No.124-2016.

Average Market Rent (AMR)

The Average Monthly City-wide Rents (AMR) by unit type as determined by the City and published online.

Household Income

The applicant’s household consists of all persons living in a housing unit aged 16 or over. 

Initial Income Limit

Household income at initial occupancy must be at or below the initial income limit, which is four times the annualized monthly occupancy cost for the housing unit in order to be eligible for the unit. This is calculated by multiplying the monthly occupancy costs for an affordable housing rental unit by 48.

Monthly Occupancy Costs

The monthly rent payable to the landlord of a housing unit, and the monthly charges for hydro, heat, water, and hot water that apply to that unit. This does not include charges for parking, cable, telephone or any other like charges.

Monthly occupancy costs must be set in accordance with the terms of the Contribution Agreement:

  • All Contribution Agreements will require that monthly occupancy costs for each unit not exceed the City AMRs.
  • Each Contribution Agreement will also require that the average of all rents not exceed a percentage of the City AMR. This percentage is typically 80% or 100%.

Personal Information

This includes recorded information that identifies an individual, such as, but not limited to:

  • their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation or marital or family status;
  • their education, medical, criminal, or employment history;
  • their financial transactions;
  • any identifying number or symbol assigned to them;
  • their address, telephone number, fingerprints, or blood type;
  • confidential correspondence sent by the individual to an institution and any response to such correspondence; or
  • the views or opinions of another individual about them.

This applies to any record of information, such as paper, photographs, videos, emails or other format.


A record is:

  • any document or written material created by a housing provider; or
  • any document or written material related to the operation of a housing project that is given to a housing provider.

Unit Type

The number of bedrooms is the unit type.

Provincial Guidelines and By-law No. 124-2016 establish a framework for the City to assist housing developers/operators, in which the City and the developer will enter into a municipal housing project facility agreement. Under the terms of the bylaw and agreement, the landlord must assess eligibility in the following two ways prior to a household moving into an affordable housing rental unit:

1. Initial Income Limit

Landlords must confirm that the income of the applicant’s household is at or below the initial income limit. See Figure 1 for a sample calculation. The landlord must refuse to offer a unit to an applicant if the applicant’s household income is greater than the initial income limit, and the refusal must be sent to the applicant and retained by the landlord for seven years.

To document that the income limit at initial occupancy has been verified, households must complete and sign an Affordable Housing Household Income Review Form for each applicant and retain this form for seven years. Contact HSS@toronto.ca to obtain a copy of this form.

Figure 1 –Sample calculation to check income limits

Richard and Katrina would like to rent an affordable housing unit apartment with a monthly occupancy cost of $1,100. Richard earns $2,000 a month and Katrina earns $2,100 a month.

Step 1. Calculate the annual household income of the household

The annual household income is $49,200, as per the calculations in Table 1.

A. Household Member B. Monthly Income C. Annual Income
(B x 12 Months)
Table 1 – Calculation of the annual household income for Richard and Katrina
Richard $2,000.00 $24,000.00
Katrina $2,100.00 $25,200.00
Total Annual Income $49,200.00


Step 2. Calculate the initial income limit

The initial income limit is $52,800, as per the calculation in Table 2.

A. Monthly Occupancy Cost B. Initial Income Limit
(A X 48)
Table 2 – Calculation of the initial income limit
$1,100.00 $52,800.00


Step 3. Confirm that the annual household income is less than the initial income limit

The household income of $49,200 is less than the initial income limit of $52,800, so the household is eligible for Affordable Rental Housing.

2. Citizenship/Immigration Status

Provincial Guidelines and By-law No. 124-2016 require that all households must be eligible to be on social housing waitlists, which requires that all members of the applicant household be:

  • a Canadian citizen;
  • a permanent resident of Canada or has applied for permanent resident status; or
  • a refugee claimant or Convention refugee.

To demonstrate that this has been verified, landlords must retain a copy of the appropriate citizenship/documentation.

Acceptable documents are:

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence document
  • Formal letter or document from Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) stating Refugee Protection

The landlord must report annually to the City, confirming that the household incomes of all new households in the preceding year had incomes which were equal to or less than the initial income limit. To report, landlords must complete the Affordable Rental Housing Form: Annual Occupancy Report. Contact HSS@toronto.ca to obtain a copy of this form.

Update on Annual Reporting

Affordable housing providers will be no longer be required to submit the Confirmation of Initial Income report.

Landlords are responsible for the information they collect, ensuring completeness and protection of privacy, as outlined here.

Record Retention

Landlords must retain the following records for each fiscal year for at least seven years.

1. Household files

Household files must contain:

  • the initial application form;
  • a lease;
  • a completed and signed Household Income Review Form;
  • complete documents related to the verification of income; and
  • documents verifying the citizenship/verification status in Canada of each household member.

2. Refusals

Landlords must retain decisions to refuse to offer a unit to an applicant, which must include the decision, a copy of the notice given to the household, and the facts that were used to make the decision.

Protecting Personal Information

Landlords are required to protect the households’ personal information as per the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Written Notice

You are required to provide applicants with a written notice which:

  • advises that you are collecting information for the purpose of administration of Affordable Housing program to verify eligibility; and
  • provides the contact information of a person who will respond to any questions or complaints about the collection and retention of their personal information, including that contact’s name, title, business address, and phone number.

You must also advise them that their personal information may only be disclosed to:

  • members of the household who request information about themselves, unless the information reveals something personal/private about another person or organization, or providing that information will put any another person at risk;
  • the City of Toronto or to any government or organization with whom the City of Toronto has an agreement for the purpose of administering an Affordable Housing Program; and/or
  • relevant authorities or persons, when:
    (i) disclosure is permitted or required under legislation or regulation including, but not limited to the Criminal Code of Canada, Child and Family Services Act, 1990, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1990, Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, Ontario Works Act, 1997, Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997
    (ii) disclosure is required pursuant to a court order or subpoena
    (iii) refusing or neglecting to provide personal or health information could endanger the safety of members of the household or others

If a person disagrees with the personal information in their file, they can ask the landlord to correct the information, or submit a written statement explaining why they disagree with the information, to be retained in their file.

Access to information

Landlords must take steps to ensure privacy by controlling access to all personal information, such as:

  • ensuring files are kept in a locked cabinet;
  • using passwords to protect information on computer systems;
  • using secure methods so share confidential information; and
  • restricting access and viewing of records to only those needed for administration and decisions.

Disposal of records

Landlords should dispose of confidential records by either:

  • shredding or destroying  the information, or
  • sending the records to a company that specializes in getting rid of confidential information.

Staff responsibility

With regards to record retention and privacy protection as outlined in this section, landlords must:

  • ensure that directors, officers, employees, and agents are aware of their responsibilities; and
  • assign at least one individual to be responsible for records retention and privacy protection.

Resources are also linked above in appropriate sections.