'Rent control vs. housing supply' is the debate landlords and developers want us to have

October 12, 2017
Article Source

Gentrification, taxation, the sheer horror of a small luxury-condo building displacing a few trees down the street from the tony manse you and your partner share as a CanLit power couple: housing in Toronto is a complex, divisive issue. If there's one argument that everyone with any skin or interest in the debate can agree on, it's that the city needs more housing, and especially more rental housing. We need to do something to get more rental units built in this city.

Even though the rental housing that does exist costs an exorbitant amount, measures to keep down costs for tenants don't create the same broad consensus. Instead, rent control tends to make landlords and developers lose their collective heads and start wailing to every reporter and politician who will listen about the danger it poses not to their profit margins, but to the very fabric of society. The provincial government's decision earlier this year to enact rent control on purpose-built rental buildings built after 1991, bringing them under the same regulation as older buildings, has resulted in the same predictable response.

Last week, the Globe and Mail and the Sun breathlessly reported on a study that claims since the government's April announcement of rent control expansion, developers have changed their minds about building more than 1,000 rental units, instead deciding to build them as more profitable condos. The study, coincidentally, was commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario, which bills itself as "the voice of Ontario's rental housing industry."

In fact, the Sun's headline goes further than the study appears to, claiming that 1,000 rental units will be "eliminated"—as opposed to not being built in the first place.

Read more: 'Rent control vs. housing supply' is the debate landlords and developers want us to have