City of Ottawa seeks to protect tenants from renovations

The City of Ottawa has identified a “potential tool” that would protect tenants from renovations, by preventing a residential building with six or more units from being demolished without a permit.

A joint meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee and the Planning Committee this morning will discuss ideas for addressing anti-renovation proposals to protect tenants.

Reviction refers to evictions that occur when a landlord undertakes renovations to a rental property and then “replaces the evicted tenants with those who would pay higher rents once the renovations are complete,” says a report for the meeting. today.

In November 2020, council directed staff to review all municipal tools available to prevent or prohibit renovations in the city.

Staff say that while an outright ban on all renovations is outside the authority of the municipality, they have identified, ‘as a potential tool’, ways to prevent further loss of housing affordable rentals.

The Municipalities Act allows the City to “prohibit the ‘conversion of residential rental properties for a purpose other than that of a residential rental property’, of 6 or more units, without a permit,” the report states.

“The municipality may impose conditions on the permit and may require that an agreement be registered on the title.

The report says “this power” would prevent a residential unit or building from being used as a business or converted into a condominium, unless a permit has been granted by Council.

Staff recommends that committees direct staff to prepare a proposal to explore the feasibility of a new by-law prohibiting the demolition or conversion in whole or in part of residential and rental units of six or more units without a permit issued by the city.

The report notes that “every unit counts” for housing.

The committees are also urged to direct the Mayor to write to the Government of Ontario asking for legislative changes to protect existing tenants and the affordable housing stock by updating the Residential Tenancies Act to to “prevent and further prohibit cases of renovation”.

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