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Searching for a Path to Legalized Rooming Houses

Toronto could legalize rooming houses, also known as multi-tenant or lodging houses, in an effort to bring the city's many unpermitted examples of this low-income affordable housing type up to humane standards of health and safety.
November 18, 2020, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Multi-Tenant Housing
Beaty Avenue in Toronto is lined with permitted rooming houses.

"Toronto’s inconsistent rules about rooming houses — banned in some areas and unregulated in others — have led to tenants living in dangerous conditions," reports Victoria Gibson, sharing the details of a recent report by city staff that recommends legalizing and licensing rooming houses city wide.

"Rooming houses — also called multi-tenant or lodging houses — are an especially affordable form of housing, with tenants renting by the room. They are one of the few private market options for those on government support or low incomes," explains Gibson.

Rooming houses are prohibited in large swaths of the city, but they are found all over the city anyway, a reality that creates dangerous situations for residents. "Often that means houses are run without appropriate permits or inspections," according to Gibson. "Building operators can’t upgrade buildings if they fail to meet requirements like the fire code, because the city can’t issue building permits for rooming houses where they aren’t permitted."

Toronto's consideration of its rooming houses stock comes just a few weeks after the city of Vancouver announced an ambitious plan to pursue $1 billion to purchase single-family occupancy buildings to develop and maintain as affordable housing in the city, in addition to another $30 million.

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Published on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 in Yahoo News via Toronto Star
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