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Kitchener considering bylaw to protect renters

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The City of Kitchener is considering new rules to help renters facing demoviction.

According to a city staff report, the proposed bylaw would “provide stability and compensation to tenants displaced by redevelopment and to create a transparent and predictable Rental Replacement permitting regime.”

“It’s one tool in the toolkit and I hope that we keep expanding on how we can protect renters and rent eviction,” said Kitchener Councillor Stephanie Stretch.

If adopted, a landowner who wants to convert six or more rental units must provide alternative housing to all affected tenants or compensation if the building is set to be demolished. Renters could opt for free rent for one year prior to moving out, compensation for 10 months of rent, or the landowner could be required to find them a new place to live.

“Rent of that new unit would be equal to what they’re currently paying,” explained Natalie Goss, the planning researcher for the City of Kitchener. “If the rent of that unit that they’ve secured, the market rate for that rent is higher, the developer would be one that would be paying for the difference.”

The city said the rental replacement bylaw is one way to keep rental units on the market, by mandating the building keeps the same number of rental units.

“Continuing to provide affordable housing options, even in newer buildings, continues to be important,” Goss added.

Despite the restrictions placed on developers, the city is hopeful it will actually help development by making sure everyone is following the same playbook.

“It does make it predictable for developers, knowing when they do want to make some changes, knowing what the expectations are,” explained Stretch. “It also provides stability because tenants know what those expectations are.”

The bylaw won’t protect tenants, like those living at 250 Frederick Street, who are facing eviction through renovation.

The city said it doesn’t have the authority.

“We have limited tools to use,” explained Stretch. “Really, we would need to see some stronger action from the province about this.”

If the proposed rental replacement bylaw is passed, it could go into effect later this summer.

  

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