New bylaw could help tenants being evicted due to redevelopment
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Staff in Kitchener are recommending the creation of a rental replacement bylaw that would help some tenants being evicted when their buildings are demolished for development.
Councillors are to consider a report at a committee meeting Monday, recommending that staff consult community stakeholders and the development industry before preparing a rental replacement bylaw, similar to ones in place in Toronto, Mississauga and Oakville.
In January, councillors asked staff to look into these bylaws and other potential tools that could support residents displaced by infill developments and limit the loss of rental stock.
Councillors have dealt with several development applications in recent months where approving a new project means existing tenants, often paying affordable or below-market rents, will be evicted when their buildings are demolished.
They’re expected to consider another one Monday, in which 13 rental units in two buildings on Benton and St. George streets would be torn down to make way for a proposed highrise with 13 storeys and 96 units.
Current provincial law requires a landlord to provide one month’s rent, or offer another acceptable rental unit, if a building with fewer than five units is being demolished. For a building with five or more units, tenants must receive three months’ rent or another acceptable unit.
A municipal rental replacement bylaw can only apply to properties with six or more rental units.
Typically, the bylaws require a landlord to provide replacement units comparable in size, quality and rent to the original unit, and must be retained as rental units for 10 to 20 years.
Staff in Kitchener are recommending a city-wide bylaw that would take effect immediately upon approval (rather than being phased in), and require replacement units to remain rental for at least 10 years or until the tenant moves out.
Developers would not be allowed to provide cash in lieu of a new unit, but replacement units could be offered in the new building or at a similar site nearby.
The city retained land economics firm Parcel Economics to look at the financial impacts of a rental replacement bylaw.
The Parcel report found there are 21,400 purpose-built rental units in Kitchener, of which 96 per cent (20,500 units) would be eligible under a rental replacement bylaw as they’re in buildings with six or more units.
Parcel determined that about 3,600 units in roughly 215 buildings have redevelopment potential, where it would make financial sense to redevelop a property even if a bylaw required the units to be replaced; these are generally buildings with six to 30 rental units.
While Parcel said a rental replacement bylaw would likely deter intensification due to the new financial obligations on developers, staff said the protections offered to tenants “outweigh the potential risks.”
Staff are also recommending council direction to continue to work with the Region of Waterloo and other stakeholders to explore additional tools that could help tenants.
Current provincial law requires a landlord to provide one month’s rent, or offer another acceptable rental unit, if a building with fewer than five units is being demolished
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