Wynne government unveils 16 measures to cool hot housing market

Ontario plans to help cool a hot housing market by bringing in a 15-per-cent foreign buyer tax, expanding rent control, allowing Toronto to impose a tax on vacant homes and using surplus lands for affordable housing.
   
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced today that a non-resident speculation tax will be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.
   
Once legislation passes, the tax would be effective retroactively to April 21.
   
Wynne says the package of housing measures will make the process of finding a place to live a little easier, a little less frantic and a lot fairer.
   
The province will also expand rent control, which currently only applies to units built before November 1991, after tenants in newer units complained of dramatic spikes in rent.
   
Toronto Mayor John Tory has been calling for a tax on vacant homes, and Wynne says Ontario will give Toronto and other interested municipalities the power to impose such a tax to encourage owners to sell or rent such spaces.
   
The provincial Liberal government's housing plan contains 16 measures in total, including identifying provincially owned surplus lands for affordable or rental housing development, rebating a portion of development charges to encourage rental construction, and reviewing rules for real estate agents.
   
The measures are aimed at cooling down a hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, where the average price of detached houses rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.