Multi-Tenant Housing 101

A multi-tenant house, also known as a rooming house, is a building with four or more dwelling-rooms intended to be used by people who do not live together as a single housekeeping unit, but instead share a kitchen and/or washroom.

Under this definition, a multi-tenant (rooming house) dwelling-room is defined as one which is intended to be used as a bedroom or a living accommodation, available for rent, and may have a bathroom or kitchen exclusive for the occupant of such a room, but not both.

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In Toronto, a large majority of rental units are in large multi-unit apartment buildings.

Policy and market circumstances from the 1950s to the 1970s created this large apartment-style housing sector, sprinkled across most post-war suburbs, which appeared in conjunction with the development of publicly funded (social) housing.

These apartment-style housing units were built to meet high overall population growth.

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In North York, Scarborough and East York - regions where multi-tenant housing is not permitted - the City pushed for a laissez-faire approach where pretty much nothing is done unless there is a complaint. Unfortunately, the enforcement of these complaints are joined by significant implications for the residents of a multi-tenant house property, and there are so many restrictions associated with the licensing regimes that landlords are able to weaponize their illegitimate housing status to coerce tenant into not complaining.

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Right now there are hundreds of thousands of renters in the City of Toronto that rightly fear they are one eviction away from permanent displacement or homelessness.

And while overall, vacancy rates have gone up, so has the average median cost of housing, meaning the rate of increase in the supply of new and/or existing affordable housing remains low.

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  1. Multi-Tenant House Owners and Operators:

  2. Tenants of Multi-Tenant Houses

  3. Multi-Tenant (Rooming Houses) House Review

  4. Housing History Toronto

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