Proposal to legalize Rooming Houses City-wide

In the summer of 2020, City Council proposed the legalization of rooming houses City-wide. Click here to read the proposal.

Multi-tenant housing, also known as rooming houses, allows home owners to rent rooms directly to individuals, with all tenants sharing a kitchen, bathroom, and other common areas. Currently, multi-tenant houses are only permitted in parts of pre-amalgamation Toronto, Etobicoke and York. A proposed new
by-law would make it legal to turn any home in a residential neighbourhood into a rooming house. With the current scarcity of affordable housing, rooming houses can be part of the solution. However, I am concerned about the impact on neighbourhoods with this City-wide approach. 

Although the City claimed to have extensively engaged with communities on this issue, many residents were unaware this proposal even existed. Earlier this year, I used a automatic telephone survey with multiple choice answers to help understand residents’ opinions on the matter. A random sampling of 500 people was used for the survey. According to the survey results, the majority of Don Valley East residents do not support rooming houses. When asked if they support rooming houses in their community, 24% of respondents said yes, 53% said no, and 23% were undecided.

To further understand residents’ thoughts on the matter, my staff and I organized a virtual community town hall on the subject of rooming houses in June 2021. With over 90 residents in attendance, we were able to have an open conversation – with City staff in attendance – to regarding the proposal and its potential impact on communities. Residents in attendance were strongly opposed to the proposal and its potential effects on neighbourhoods.

Council deferred a vote on PH25.10 A New Regulatory Framework for Multi-tenant Houses that would have legalized and regulated rooming houses across the City.  Denzil and several other Councillors shared their residents’ concerns regarding the proposal, and intended to oppose it.  It’s scheduled to come back to Council on Sept. 30, after trying to address some of the residents’ and Councillors’ concerns. 

To watch the debate during July’s City Council meeting, click here.