New housing legislation to look out for in 2024

With a new year now underway, Canadians can expect to see a variety of changes coming to federal, provincial and local government housing legislation in 2024. 

From updated taxes to revised urban planning regulations, new housing laws and policies will roll out across the country in the coming months. Several of these policies promise to boost much-needed housing supply, which remains at a critical shortage in both the resale and rental segments.  

Here are the new housing policies that you should know about in 2024. 


Federal Policies

Short-term Rental Restrictions

In November, 2023, the Government of Canada unveiled its 2023 Fall Economic Statement, which details new tax, spending and inventory-boosting measures. This includes new efforts to incentivise short-term rental operators to return properties to the long-term housing market. Going forward, income tax deductions will be denied in cases where short-term rental owners are not compliant with provincial or municipal licensing, permitting or registration requirements. This applies to all expenses incurred on or after January 1st, 2024.

You can read more details from the 2023 Fall Economic Statement here

Pre-approved Home Design Catalogue

To boost construction of new home supply, the federal government intends to revive a post-Second World War housing policy of standardized, pre-approved home designs, making it easier and faster for developers to build new properties. The modern version of the catalogue will focus on creating blueprints for a variety of low-rise housing, and potentially higher-density homes and different forms of building construction, such as modular and prefabricated homes. 

Consultations for the home catalogue are expected to start in January, 2024.


British Columbia 

New Short-term Rental Housing By-laws

In late 2023, the provincial government introduced the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act which imposes stricter regulations and enforcement on short-term rental housing. As of May 1st, 2024, the Act will require short-term rental hosts to display a valid business licence number on their listing in regions where a licence is required by the local government. Short-term rentals will be limited to the host’s principal residence, plus one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit, in select communities. 

Additionally, protections for ‘non-conforming use of property’ will no longer apply to short-term rentals. Later in the year, the British Columbia government will implement a short-term rental registry, and require rental platforms to share data with the Province. 

Expanded Speculation and Vacancy Tax

The province has expanded its existing speculation and vacancy tax laws to 13 new communities, including Penticton, Courtenay and Kamloops. Homeowners in applicable regions will be required to declare how they used their property in 2024 for the first time in January, 2025. 

Introduced in 2018, the speculation and vacancy tax is 2% for individuals who don’t pay the majority of their taxes in Canada, or 0.5% for Canadian citizens or permanent residents who pay the majority of their taxes in the country. 

Updated Zoning Rules

New zoning laws are under consideration to deliver more small-scale, multi-unit housing across British Columbia. Under the proposed legislation, one secondary suite or one laneway home will be permitted in all communities throughout the province. In most areas within municipalities of more than 5,000 people, by-laws will also be adapted to allow three to four units on lots currently zoned exclusively for single-family or duplex residential, and permit six units on larger lots close to transit stops with frequent service.

Additionally, the new zoning rules would require municipalities to update community plans and zoning by-laws on a regular basis to ensure that there is enough housing for current and future residents. Changes to zoning by-laws will roll out across 2024. 


Alberta

Interest on Security Deposits

Alberta landlords will be required to pay annual interest on security deposits they receive from their tenants. Effective January 1st, 2024, the interest rate payable on security deposits will be set at 1.6% under the Residential Tenancies Act and Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act. Previously, security deposits did not incur interest. 


Toronto

New Luxury Home Tax

Effective January 1st, 2024, the City of Toronto will enforce graduated Municipal Land Transfer Tax thresholds for high value residential properties. Previously, homes valued at $2 million or more would be subject to a MLTT rate, which is currently set at 2.5%. Going forward, additional thresholds have been established for homes priced between $3 million and $20 million, with the new rates set incrementally higher based on the value of the home. 

Legalization of Rooming Houses

Otherwise known as multi-tenant homes, rooming houses will become legal in the City of Toronto starting March 31st, 2024, along with new regulations. Previously, rooming houses were not legal in some areas of the city. Under the new framework, Toronto rooming houses will be limited to a maximum number of rooms and parking, licensing requirements, and will be required to follow a compliance program. A multi-tenant house is defined as a building with four or more rooms that may have a shared washroom and kitchen.

Increase in Vacant Home Tax Rates 

In 2023, Toronto introduced its first ever Vacant Home Tax (VHT), which requires homeowners to declare the occupancy status of their residence to the municipality each year. The VHT was implemented to increase housing supply in Toronto by encouraging the conversion of empty properties into occupied homes.

The VHT has been increased from 1% to 3% for the 2024 taxation year, which will become payable in 2025.

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