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Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Premier had introduced Fair Housing Plan (FHP) to increase affordability for homebuyers and help renters market, a recent news release said.
The latest Reserve Bank of Canada (RBC)'s Economics details revealed housing affordability in Toronto area during the fourth quarter of 2016 to be its second-worst level on record since the mid-1980s.
“RBC’s affordability data strongly indicate that the Toronto area market is in a high-risk zone,” the report said.
With the aim of helping Ontarians buy their first home, effective January 1, 2017, the province had doubled the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund to $4,000 for qualifying first-time homebuyers, the news release said.
The news release continued that a set of 16 comprehensive measures had been listed by FHP to stabilize real estate market enabling more people find an affordable place and protect interests of both renters and investment of homeowners.
" People work hard to provide for their families. They should be able to rent or enter the real estate market without making great sacrifices or taking on a huge amount of risk. At the same time, we recognize the need to protect the significant investment homeowners have made. This plan balances those needs to stabilize the market and prevent a sharp correction that would be harmful to everyone," said Wynne.
The list of measures included: an introduction of a 15 percent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) for non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) to ensure all new residents in Ontario are welcomed. GGH includes the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and the surrounding regions from Peterborough through Barrie, Waterloo and the Niagara Peninsula to the U.S. border. This measure would contribute to Ontario’s economical growth.
Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa's promise Last November, to make mandatory for all home buyers in Ontario to reveal their citizenship and place of residence, would be effective from 24th of this month, CBCNews reports said.
" A strong housing market reflects Ontario’s strong economy. However, everyone deserves housing choices that are affordable. Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan is a thoughtful way to address the recent price increases in our housing and rental market so that affordable housing is available to people and meets the diverse needs of our communities," said Sousa, .
The province is also considering to standardize leasing process so that landlords cannot include illegal clauses in their contracts with tenants.
FHP also promotes: rent controls to all private rental units, including those built after 1991 to protect tenants from sudden rent increases; introduction of a tax on vacant homes in Toronto and other municipalities to motivate owners to sell or rent unoccupied units; identification of surplus lands in the province that could be used for affordable and rental housing development.
Other 12 measures included in Ontario's FHP are: introduction of a targeted $125-million, five-year program for construction of new rental apartment buildings with some rebates on development charges; tackle the problems of tax evasion; stop the practice of "paper flipping" of properties which means a contract to buy a residential unit and assign it to another person before closing; assigning a new Housing Supply Team consisting of dedicated employees from Ontario who would work with municipalities and developers to identify barriers for housing development projects and find solutions.
These measures, besides addressing Ontario's rising housing costs to provide affordable housing would also help create jobs for people and help in provincial economic growth.
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued the following statement on Ontario's housing plan
“I welcome many of the actions announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne's government today. I am pleased that the government will activate surplus provincial land like the West Don Lands to create new affordable housing, something I have been urging the Premier to do for some time. I'm also gratified that the provincial government will allow the City to move forward with a vacant homes tax, subject to the results of our examination, and other measures to curtail speculation and add new supply into the marketplace right away.”
Ontario government said that it will review the regulations governing the industry, including the body representing agents (the Ontario Real Estate Association) and the provincial regulator (The Real Estate Council of Ontario), before imposing any new rules on real estate agents, CBCNews reports said.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
Image of Kathleen Wynne: Wikipedia