Ontario, Canada brings in foreign housing tax to cool market

A 15 per cent tax on home purchases by non-resident foreigners. The tax, if enacted, would be retroactively applied to all transactions from April 21st and on, but the government had hinted at this move ahead of time.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday sought to dispel any notion that Ontario's proposed homebuyers' tax is a sign the country is shunning foreign investment.

Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, said the measures could help make homes more affordable for residents.

"If we look at what economists are saying, look at what folks who are trying to buy a home are saying, it's really gotten to the point where it is out of control and we need to do something", she said.

Ontario Housing Minister Chris Ballard has also said the provincial government has been developing "substantive rent control reform" amid calls to end a rule that sees annual rent increase caps only apply to residential buildings or units constructed before November 1991. The decline of purpose-built rental housing-which has recently witnessed a resurgence due to increased demand-has been attributed by some to previous rent control measures, though the extent to which rent controls have impacted new construction starts is disputed.

House prices have seen sharp increases over the a year ago.

The province is also expanding rent controls and giving Toronto and other municipalities the power to impose a tax on vacant homes, something that Toronto Mayor John Tory has been pushing for.

Sousa says the province needs a "Made in Ontario" solution to the housing crisis and it needs it now. It will also introduce a C$125 million ($93 million) five-year program to encourage apartment construction.

Real estate agent Sabrina Ataullah-Jan said that Canadian properties are undervalued and that is why the Toronto area has an influx of foreign investment.

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The request comes after what some councillors see as the success of the same foreign buyers tax imposed last fall in Vancouver and as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a 15 per cent foreign buyers levy in the Toronto area.

This latter move is ostensibly created to help tenants, except its impact will be to dry up new residential apartment construction in the same way existing rent controls did for buildings constructed prior to 1991.

He has said that at least some of the housing measures will be included in the Ontario budget, set to be tabled April 27.

Wein said his company builds condos and houses throughout the Toronto region and generally requires that buyers get permission from Great Gulf to reassign their contracts for new homes. Newer buildings are free from those restrictions. "The biggest problem is a shortage of homes, and that's because of the government's vision for a high density Ontario and its desire to use taxes and regulations to squeeze as much money out of sales and development as it can".

The Ontario Fair Housing Plan includes options to boost housing supply, prevent egregious rent increases and rein in excessive speculation.

- The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed. The company cut ties with 45 brokers in 2015 after finding falsified borrower income information, the same flaw that sunk many subprime lenders in the US during the housing crisis.

- Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.

Possibly the most far-reaching of these measures is a 15% Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST).

They'll also be required to say if the home is intended for their use, or if they intend to lease it out.

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