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Canada: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne introduces Fair Housing PlanIndia Blooms News Service
According to latest RBC Economics details, housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2016 in Toronto area was at 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.
To help Ontarians buy their first home, the province doubled the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund to $4,000 for qualifying first-time homebuyers, effective January 1, 2017, the news release said.
The news release continued to state that FHP lists a set of 16 comprehensive measures, which in addition, to stabilising real estate market in enabling more people find an affordable place, would also protect interests of renters and the 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.
These measures included: introduction of a 15 percent Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties containing one to six units in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) – which includes the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, as well as the surrounding region stretching from Peterborough through Barrie, Waterloo and the Niagara Peninsula to the U.S. border -- to ensure all new residents in Ontario are welcomed leading to Ontario’s economical growth.
"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 Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance.
The decision, promised by Sousa last November, making it mandatory for all buyers in Ontario to reveal their citizenship and place of residence, would take effect on Monday, CBCNews reports said.
The province is also considering to bring in a standardized lease, similar to that exists in Quebec, to stop landlords from putting illegal clauses in their contracts with tenants.
FHP’s promotion of rent control to all private rental units, including those built after 1991 to protect tenants from sudden rent increases; encouraging Toronto and other municipalities to introduce a tax on vacant homes to motivate owners to sell or rent unoccupied units; help in identification of provincially owned surplus lands 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; measures to tackle practices to avoid tax; "paper flipping" which means entering into a contract to buy a residential unit and assigning it to another person prior to closing; assigning a new Housing Supply Team of dedicated employees from Ontario, who would work with developers and municipalities to identify barriers for housing development projects and search for their solutions.
This multi-faceted plan consisting of new policies to address Ontario's rising housing costs to provide affordable housing to people of Ontario would also help create jobs for people and help them in their everyday lives.
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a 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.”
Before imposing any new measures on real estate agents, Ontario government said, 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), CBCNews reports said.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)