Ontario, Canada brings in foreign housing tax to cool market

At the core of the government's long-touted series of measures, unveiled on Thursday morning, is a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers who don't live in Canada called a Non-Resident Speculation Tax. The initial signs were that Toronto would not to go down that road.

Canadian housing starts in March hit their highest level since September 2007, driven by a significant increase in the Toronto market and its surrounding communities due to shortages in resale listings and rental units, fresh figures show. The rent controls must come through approved legislation, but will take effect today, April 20.

That means the progressive property surtax would apply to people who own an expensive home and speculators who own multiple expensive homes, but pay little-to-no income tax in Ontario, whether that's because they're foreign nationals or have otherwise avoided or evaded taxes, he said.

The government is also planning to expand the province's existing rent control system to cover all tenants, ending the exemption that now allows unlimited rent increases, it added.

"Last weekend a house sold for 1 million over asking on a 2 million-dollar home".

The official didn't comment on specific measures other than to say they would address supply and demand.

In the end, it may be voter anger that drives Sousa to act first, with the provincial Liberal government suffering in opinion polls and measures to address "affordability" already promised in his April 27 budget.

Last year, the Clark government in B.C. put in place new rules that require real estate agents to draft offers that require the seller's consent to a contract transfer, and any resulting profit to be returned to the seller.

- A 15% non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.

The building industry has warned that rent control will discourage the construction of new rental properties.

A standardized lease document for all tenants.

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- A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.

Sousa, for his part, said he is not anxious that capping rent increases will discourage developers from building new housing.

A rebate of development cost charges to encourage building of more rental housing.

What else do you need to know about "Ontario's Fair Housing Plan?". This will contribute to our strengthened enforcement efforts.

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, welcomed the review.

- Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority. Possible steps include taxing homes left empty for speculative purposes, Tory said.

Many analysts are now focussed on the Bank of Canada's next move for guidance on whether or not policymakers believe an interest rate rise is needed to cool the housing market. "They'll look after themselves".

Home prices in the Toronto area climbed 6.2 percent last month, the biggest one-month gain on record, according to a benchmark price index by the Canadian Real Estate Association, and are up nearly 30 percent over the past 12 months. Earlier this month, CBC Toronto reported about a tenant in a two-bedroom condo in Liberty Village - the same neighbourhood where Wynne made Thursday's announcement - jump from $1,660 to $3,320.

The intention of the much anticipated housing measures package is to "give everyone some breathing space" in a frenzied market, Premier Wynne said Wednesday.

"It's very hard to tell whether a vacancy tax would be effective at cooling the housing market".

Despite the focus on foreign speculators, the government has admitted it doesn't have good data on the real estate market.

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