Ontario to tax foreign buyers, expand rent control

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa have said the measures will target speculators, expedite more housing supply, tackle rental affordability and look at realtor practices.

Canada's Ontario province announced new rent controls and a 15 per cent tax on home purchases by non-resident foreigners on Thursday to try to cool a searing hot Toronto-area real estate market.

The average price of detached houses in the Greater Toronto Area rose to $1.21 million Canadian (US$900,000) last month.

Ontario's Liberal government, trailing the Progressive Conservatives in opinion polls ahead of an election in June 2018, had also come under pressure to respond to growing public frustration about the role foreign buyers are playing in the Toronto market. However, he predicts a short-term slowdown in the market once the measures are implemented.

"Everything we wanted to say about capital gains taxes was in our last budget and you probably saw what was in our last budget", said minister Morneau.

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"What we're aiming to do is to bring in some initiatives that will help people in that whole continuum of housing right from rental through to purchasing a home without having unintended consequences", she said in Ottawa. Canadians are moving to Ontario at the fastest rate in 29 years, and the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) continues to be one of the most attractive places in the country for newcomers.

Expanding the province's existing rent control system to cover all tenants. "It was something that needed to be discussed in the region". Now only units built before 1991 are subject to such curbs.

There will be a new five-year $125-million program to encourage the construction of new r‎ental apartments by rebating builders a chunk of development charges.

"A lot of local buyers will sit on the sidelines for a while to watch and see what happens, and then that pent-up demand will re-enter the market down the road once the fear and the unknown has passed", said Blair Mackey, a sales representative with Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

- A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions. "Anybody who is breaking the rules is taking advantage of somebody making the biggest investment of their lives".

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"You really want to protect tenants".

A move to identify provincially owned surplus lands that could be used for affordable and rental housing Toronto the areas identified include the West Don Lands and 27 Grosvenor St. and 26 Grenville St.

Sousa has spoken frequently in recent weeks about going after speculators, those who buy a home in the hope of turning a profit rather than to live in.

However, Kavcic said the impact in Toronto could be more muted than it was in Vancouver, as the tax is not coming as a surprise and there are more exemptions.

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