As of March 31, 2024, all operators of multi-tenant (rooming) houses will be required to obtain a licence. Until then, the current restrictions on multi-tenant houses apply.

 

On December 14, 2022, Toronto City Council adopted a new regulatory framework for multi-tenant (rooming) houses resulting in an amendment to the City’s Zoning Bylaw to permit multi-tenant houses across Toronto. A new Multi-Tenant Houses Licensing Bylaw will introduce consistent standards, regulatory oversight, and enforcement to help protect the safety of tenants and respond to neighbourhood concerns.

Multi-tenant houses are an important part of Toronto’s rental housing stock. They come in a wide range of forms and are home to a diverse array of residents, including newcomers, students, seniors and those with low-and-moderate incomes.

Multi-tenant houses are not permitted in some areas of the city due to fragmented zoning bylaws that have not been updated since amalgamation in 1998. Currently, multi-tenant houses are only permitted in the former city of Toronto and some parts of the former cities of York and Etobicoke.

Unlicensed multi-tenant houses continue to operate to meet demand, which can result in inadequate and unsafe living conditions for tenants. Multi-tenant houses in the former cities of Toronto and Etobicoke require a licence, whereas a licence is not required in the former city of York.

The pathway to achieving safe, liveable and affordable multi-tenant houses starts with changing the City’s zoning and licensing bylaws, which then enables regulatory oversight and effective enforcement.

Learn more about multi-tenant (rooming) houses and how they are regulated in Toronto.

The new regulatory framework will help create safe, adequate multi-tenant houses, expanding affordable housing options in Toronto. It will also help support more complete and equitable communities with a range of housing opportunities for a range of incomes and needs.

Key points of the new framework include:

  • City-wide zoning standards that permit consistent and equal access to multi-tenant houses across the city, as well as place limits on the maximum number of rooms permitted in multi-tenant houses
  • Enhanced licensing requirements for multi-tenant house operators that promote health and safety, including property maintenance requirements, compliance with the Ontario Building Code and Ontario Fire Code, and new standards for personal care multi-tenant houses
  • A strategic enforcement and compliance program that ensures effective enforcement through a dedicated multi-tenant housing enforcement team, annual inspections, increased fines, modernized multi-tenant housing tribunal, and other enforcement tools.
  • Initiatives to support tenants and maintain affordability of housing, including a Housing-at-Risk Table, aimed to mitigate the loss of affordable rental housing and support tenants who face evictions.
  • Comprehensive communications and stakeholder engagement strategy, including education and outreach to operators, tenants and communities.

The framework will be implemented over a three-year period, beginning in January 2023 and continuing to March 2026, to gradually expand zoning and licensing and introduce incentive programs for operators:

  • In 2023, the focus will be on building the regulatory framework and program, as well as educating operators, tenants and communities on the new requirements that will be coming into effect.
  • The city-wide zoning and licensing bylaws will come into effect on March 31, 2024 and will focus on transitioning existing licensed operators to the new framework, identifying unlicensed multi-tenant houses to be licensed, and taking enforcement action against operators that pose a life safety risk to tenants or the community.
  • In 2025, the City will focus on outreach to new operators to apply for licences and on monitoring the impacts on housing affordability and tenants.

Learn more about the staff report that outlines the complete framework and the Council decision.

  • In 2015, consultations discussed challenges and opportunities of multi-tenant housing, with no specifics in terms of a city-wide zoning proposal.
  • In 2017, consultations were held on a proposal for five pilot areas, including temporary zoning use permissions, and standards such as seven room maximum.
  • In 2019, City staff conducted a third round of consultations to further refine the proposed improved licensing regime.
  • Public consultations held in April and May 2021 built on previous consultations and were the first time that staff consulted on a zoning approach that includes city-wide permissions and zone-specific regulations.

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