rooming houses

Rooming houses facing proposed regulation

Health hazards to residents and neighbours targeted

City staff is proposing a new regulatory and licensing strategy for multi-tenant rooming houses in parts of Toronto where many may operate illegally.

A proposed by-law aims to protect the health and safety of tenants, as well as benefit the surrounding community, a city planning report says.

Ward 39 councillor Jim Karygiannis is calling for “iron-clad guarantees” to ensure the safety of constituents.

“I’ve had several fires because of rooming houses,” he says.

Karygiannis has visited rooming houses in the past and says he was shocked by the state of shared living areas like the kitchen.

“People are living in very bad conditions in a country where we shouldn’t have to,” he said.

However, the move faces opposition from some residents in the consultation areas.

The proposed regulations may actually increase multi-tenant houses in Toronto as it’s saying to investors, ‘If you want a rooming house, here’s what you do,’ according to Ward 40 councillor Norm Kelly.

“If those by-laws go into effect, it would mean over time that every house in those communities could become a rooming house,” Kelly said.

Licensed rooming houses are permitted in the former cities of Etobicoke, Toronto, and York but prohibited in Scarborough, North York, and East York.

“What the residents of those neighborhoods want is more money put into enforcing the present by-laws,” Kelly said. “They don’t want the single-family homes and attractive neighborhoods put at risk.”

At an executive committee meeting on Wednesday, staff recommend public consultation on the impact of the proposed regulatory strategy.