Ontario, Canada brings in foreign housing tax to cool market

The tax is not about targeting immigrants, Wynne said, and a rebate would be available to people who subsequently get citizenship or permanent resident status, as well as foreign nationals working in Ontario and worldwide students.

The tax "would apply ‎to transfers of land that contain at least one and not more than six single family residences" and affect buyers who are not citizens or permanent residents as well as foreign corporations.

Ontario's Liberal government, trailing the Progressive Conservatives in opinion polls ahead of an election in June 2018, had also come under pressure to respond to growing public frustration about the role foreign buyers are playing in the Toronto market. As of Monday, however, homebuyers are required to give information about their residency and citizenship status and how they intend to use the property.

"People are betting that our future is going to be bright", Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told a news conference.

The news release continued to state that FHP lists a set of 16 comprehensive measures, which in addition, to stabilising real estate market in enabling more people find an affordable place, would also protect interests of renters and the investment of homeowners. But a recent report from realtor Royal LePage suggests the Vancouver market may be starting to bounce back.

The provincial Liberal government has come under increased pressure to do something about housing in the Greater Toronto Area, where the average price of detached houses was $1.21 million in March, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago. "Things have gotten insane", she said. "And when the rising cost of housing is making more and more people insecure about their future, and about their quality of life in Ontario, we know we have to act".

Murphy says companies that he lobbies for currently have about 28,000 rental units "in the pipeline" that are ready to be built, but now many will likely be abandoned due to the threat of rent controls. Tenants in newer units have complained of dramatic spikes in rent.

Average rents went up 11 per cent, while the vacancy rate fell to a 12-year low of 1.3 per cent.

Tenants will benefit from the government's additional move to standardize rental agreements, Dent said, which will mean landlords won't be able to hit tenants with extra fees and charges.

The provincial government's lack of data on the housing market and other real estate-related issues, and Sousa's comments on "property scalpers" - admittedly based on conversations he's had with some developers - are causing some concern among builders.

Ontario announced a rash of measures including a tax on foreign buyers and expanded rent control as part of a plan to temper escalating home prices in Toronto.

The two finance ministers and Toronto Mayor John Tory will meet Tuesday to discuss house affordability in the region. "That's why we're bringing forward this package".

  • Todd Kelly