Policy, Research, Public Consultation and Events

Multi-Tenant House Review

The City is conducting a two-phase review of multi-tenant houses (commonly referred to as rooming houses) to address issues relating to the regulation and condition of multi-tenant houses. Get involved in the process.

About the review

ExpandPublic Consultation Dates in pilot areas

Public Consultation Dates in Pilot Areas:

Learn about the City's proposed zoning approach and licensing strategy for multi-tenant (rooming) houses and share your thoughts.

The zoning strategy involves setting up five pilots areas where there is a concentration of multi-tenant houses that are not currently permitted. The licensing strategy includes new requirements to protect tenants and mitigate impacts on the neighbourhood.

We are looking for input on:

  • how multi-tenant houses should be zoned
  • maximum number of rooms allowed in a multi-tenant home
  • what requirements multi-tenant operators should have in place (site plan, waste management plan, parking plan, etc)

Pilot areas:

See ward maps.

  1. Highway 401, Morrish Road, Military Trail (Ward 43 & 44)
  2. Finch Avenue West, Martin Grove Road, Humber College Boulevard (Ward 1)
  3. Finch Avenue West, Assiniboine Road, Black Creek, Keele Street (Ward 8)
  4. Finch Avenue East, Leslie Street, Highway 404, Fairview Mall Drive (Ward 33)
  5. Steeles Avenue, Highway 404, Highway 401, Markham Road (Wards 39, 40,41)

Public consultation meetings were held in June in the five temporary zoning pilot areas listed above. See presentation from meetings below.

Phase 1: Multi-Tenant Houses Review

2014: Phased review of multi-tenant houses launched

2015: Consultations

  - 1,500 participants from across the City

  - 559 people attended neighbourhood meetings

  - 127 tenants and stakeholders participated in focus group meetings

  - 742 respondents completed an online survey

2016: Staff reported to Executive Committee. Recommendations included a proposed zoning and licensing strategy for further consultations. 

What we heard from Phase 1: 
  • Multi-tenant houses are a significant part of Toronto’s affordable housing stock
  • There are serious issues regarding multi-tenant houses’ management and maintenance
  • Better enforcement of multi-tenant houses is needed
  • Education and more information can help mitigate problems
  • More affordable housing is needed
  • System needs more than just enforcement to improve affordable housing 

Proposed Changes: 

Executive Committee approved staff consulting on:

  • Proposal of five pilot areas allowing multi-tenant houses in areas of the City where multi-tenant houses are not permitted. Consultations will include definitions of dwelling room and multi-tenant house, and maximum number of tenants per house.
  • Proposed licensing changes include additional requirements (property maintenance plan, waste management plan, parking plan, etc.).  

Proposed Pilot Areas

1.Highway 401, Morrish Road, Military Trail (Ward 44 and 43)

2.Finch Avenue West, Martin Grove Road, Humber College Boulevard  (Ward 1)

3.Finch Avenue West, Assiniboine Road, Black Creek, Keele Street (Ward 8)

4.Finch Avenue East, Leslie Street, Highway 404, Fairview Mall Drive (Ward 33)

5.Steeles Avenue, Highway 404, Highway 401, McCowan Road (Wards 39 and 40)

Consultation Plan
  • Stakeholder Input
  • 11 Public Consultations 
  • Online survey

Licensing Requirements for Multi-Tenant Operators: 

Current Requirements

  • Annual & bi-annual inspections
  • Annual fire inspections
  • Annual property standards inspection
  • Fire safety plan posted on site
  • Licensing fee

Proposed Additional Requirements

  • Property maintenance plan
  • Site and floor plan
  • Waste management plan
  • Parking plan
  • Posting of maximum number of lodgers permitted

Improvements to License Review Process

Proposed Improvements

•Hearings held by panel of decision-makers

•Agendas and decisions will be posted online to enhance transparency of licence approval process

•Hearing process not to be administered by Municipal Licensing and Standards

•Hearings will be conducted at local venues to improve accessibility 

Breakout Discussions

Please discuss in your tables the following questions:

1.What do you think of the existing and proposed licensing requirements for multi-tenant operators?

2.What additional requirements should there be on multi-tenant house operators to improve living conditions for tenants and surrounding neighbours?

3.Any additional feedback you may have?
Next Steps

Public consultations and stakeholder engagement - May - August, 2017

•5 pilot areas
•Multi-tenant house operators (private and non-profit) and tenants
•Advocacy groups, housing help agencies, and administrators of post-secondary institutions
•Internal City divisions

Staff report to Executive Committee - September 2017

•Consultation findings
•Staff proposals on zoning and licensing by-laws

ExpandPublic Consultation Dates in areas where multi-tenant houses are permitted

Public Consultation Dates in areas where multi-tenant houses are permitted

The City was seeking feedback on the licensing strategy for multi-tenant houses, including new requirements on operators to help protect health and safety of tenants and mitigate neighbourhood impacts.

Proposed additional requirements include multi-tenant operators providing:

  • A property maintenance plan
  • Site or floor plans
  • A waste management plan
  • A parking plan
  • Written confirmation on the maximum number of tenants of the multi-tenant house 

The following presentation was provided at public consultation meetings in June.

•Consultations conducted by the City two years ago on multi-tenant houses, overwhelmingly showed that there were many issues in these areas, particularly in terms of enforcement and property standards
•There are many City policies which recognize the importance of multi-tenant housing:
–City of Toronto Official Plan
–Housing Opportunities Plan
–Affordable Housing Action Plan
•Tenants can include students, seniors on fixed incomes, etc. whose incomes only allow them to afford rents offered in multi-tenant housing
•The City has put together a zoning and licensing proposal to better regulate these houses.

Meeting Purpose

The City has put together a zoning and licensing proposal to better regulate these houses.
Authority/Direction to Staff
•In October 2016, the Executive Committee directed City staff to consult on the proposed zoning approach. The feedback from this and other consultations will help inform/revise the proposal.
•City staff will report back to the Executive Committee before the end of the year on what they heard, revisions and recommendations
•Executive Committee will then decide to refuse, approve or amend staff's recommendations. Their decision has to be taken to City Council for approval

Consultation Overview

The main objective of the consultation is to get thoughts and feedback on the proposed Zoning Approach
–4 Focus Groups (2 for service providers, 2 for tenants)
–5 Key Informant Interviews
–6 Public Consultations
–Data Analysis
–Final Report


MTH are an important component of affordable housing in the City, and part of the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy
•A patchwork of by-laws
–MTH are permitted in former City of Toronto and some areas of former Etobicoke and York

The issue

MTH have appeared in areas of the City where existing zoning by-laws do not permit them
–Unlicensed, operating illegally
–Generate a high number of complaints from tenants and neighbours
•A zoning by-law allows the City to establish use permissions. This enables the City to regulate MTH and improve safety and property conditions for tenants and neighbours


Proposed Zoning Approach
•City Staff are proposing a temporary use bylaw for three years, to permit multi-tenant houses (MTH) in five selected areas where MTH are currently not permitted
•New “use” definitions
•A maximum threshold (number of rooms)

Temporary Use By-Law

The temporary use by-law means that multi-tenant houses will be permitted in the pilot areas for three years
•This approach will allow the City to assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of the approach
–May be extended for an additional three years
–May be revised and/or made permanent


Dwelling Room

A room provided, for a fee or other consideration, for living accommodation and which may contain private sanitary facilities but not cooking facilities. A dwelling room is NOT a:

  • Bed-Sitting Room
  • Room in a Crisis Care Shelter
  • Group Home
  • Hospital
  • Hotel
  • Municipal Shelter
  • Nursing Home
  • Religious Residence
  • Residential Care Home
  • Retirement Home
  • Seniors Community House
  • Student Residence
  • Tourist Home

Multi-Tenant House

A building containing more than three dwelling rooms that may have private sanitary facilities or shared common facilities for sanitary and cooking. A multi-tenant house is NOT a:

  • Apartment Building
  • Hotel
  • Crisis Care Shelter
  • Municipal Shelter
  • Nursing Home
  • Residential Care Home
  • Retirement Home
  • Seniors Community House
  • Student Residence
  • Tourist Home


Threshold (maximum number of rooms)
•The temporary use by-law proposes to permit a maximum of seven dwelling rooms in any one multi-tenant house
–basis for establishing a maximum is to evaluate the appropriateness of this use and its intensity


Requirements on Multi-Tenant Operators
Current Requirements on licensed Multi-Tenant Operators
The following are current requirements on licensed multi-tenant operators in the permitted areas of the City:
1.Annual Fire inspections*
2.Annual Property Standards Inspection
3.Fire Safety plan posted on site
4.Licensing Fee
*Fire and property standards inspections are done once every two years for owner occupied multi-tenant houses.

Table Discussions
Questions about Zoning Definitions and Threshold
1.Are the definitions of MTH and dwelling room clear?
–Yes / No – be specific re: why or why not?
–Anything we should add or delete from the definition?
2.Is a maximum number of 7 dwelling rooms the right number?
–Should it be higher or lower – be specific re: why or why not
3.Do you think the proposed zoning approach will be beneficial for the neighbourhood?
1.Yes / No – be specific re: why or why not?
Questions about Licensing requirements
1.Do you think the proposed additional licensing requirements will help manage multi-tenant house properties?
–Yes/No – be specific re: why or why not?
2.Would you add or remove any requirements? Why/ why not?

ExpandBackground on Multi-Tenant House Review

What is a multi-tenant house?

A multi-tenant house can include a house, apartment or building where you share a kitchen and/or washroom with four or more people that pay individual rent. It is an important part of the affordable rental housing stock and provides single-room accommodation to diverse tenants including students, seniors, new immigrants and low/moderate income residents. Learn more about rooming houses and how they are regulated in Toronto here.

Multi-tenant House Review

In 2014, a phrased review of multi-tenant houses (commonly referred to as rooming houses) was launched. The first phrase of the review included extensive consultations that drew 1,500 participants from across the City with 559 people attending neighbourhood meetings and 127 tenants and stakeholders participated in focus group meetings. There was also 742 respondents to an online survey.

The consultation process informed a staff report that was submitted to Executive Committee on October 26, 2016. Recommendations included a proposed zoning and licensing strategy for further consultation.

Between June and September, staff will complete research, analysis, and consultation with stakeholder groups, and the general public. A report will be submitted to Executive Committee in September with the consultation feedback and recommendations. 

The review is being undertaken in three overlapping phases:

  • Phase 1: Research and Analysis – January to August 2017
  • Phase 2: Public and Stakeholder Consultations –June 2017
  • Phase 3: Report to Executive Committee – September 2017

Multi-tenant House Review - work to date

  • Reported to Executive Committee on the results of the Phase 1 public consultation, and the proposed strategy in October 2016. The strategy included proposed zoning approach, enhanced licensing and improved enforcement.
  • Developed a proposed strategy for the city based on consultation findings, jurisdictional scan, and other research.
  • Completed Phase 1 of the public consultation and stakeholder engagement in spring 2015
  • Completed scan of multi-tenant house regulations in other jurisdictions
  • Commissioned Ipsos Reid questionnaire on multi-tenant houses in December 2014
  • Created Interdivisional Rooming House Working Group

Related Documents: