The City licenses multi-tenant houses, commonly known as rooming houses, to ensure that they are safe and well-maintained. These houses are permitted in the former City of Toronto and some parts of Etobicoke and York.
Municipal Licensing and Standards and City Planning are undertaking a review of zoning and licensing bylaws to develop a comprehensive city-wide regulatory framework that encourages and regulates safe, liveable, well-maintained and affordable multi-tenant houses across the city.
On November 17, 2020, Planning and Housing Committee will consider the report on Creating the Regulatory and Compliance Framework for Multi-Tenant Houses across Toronto.
A multi-tenant house, commonly known as rooming house, is where four or more people rent a room and share a kitchen and/or washroom. The tenants may pay rent individually.
Because tenants in multi-tenant houses pay rent for individual dwelling rooms rather than self-contained dwelling units, multi-tenant houses are an important part of the affordable rental housing market. They provide single-room accommodation to diverse tenants including students, seniors, new immigrants and low/moderate income residents.
Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) and City Planning began a review of multi-tenant houses in 2014. As part of the review, feedback on the opportunities and challenges of multi-tenant houses was collected from more than 1,500 members of the public and key stakeholder groups. This feedback was used to inform a joint staff report from ML&S and City Planning, which included a proposed zoning, licensing and enforcement strategy for multi-tenant houses that was adopted by Executive Committee in October 2016. Staff were directed to consult on the strategy, which would permit multi-tenant houses on a temporary basis in five pilot areas, and report back to Committee in 2017.
Consultations took place over the summer of 2017. ML&S and City Planning hosted public consultations in the five proposed pilot areas where multi-tenant houses are not permitted, and consulted with the public on the proposed licensing strategy. Feedback was also collected through focus groups, stakeholder meetings and an online survey.
The City of Toronto held public consultations in August 2019 to get feedback on the licensing regulations currently being reviewed by Municipal Licensing and Standards. View a copy of the presentation and discussion boards.
This current review responds to Council and Committee directives to look at options to improve the licensing and regulation of multi-tenant houses, including the rooming house hearing process.
In May 2018, City Council removed the licensing exemption for student registered fraternity and sorority houses, so that they may be required to be licensed, as set out in Chapter 285.