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Laneway Housing

steveintoronto

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I'm still digesting this, but hopefully this will shed some light on the issue of "unoccupied", but again, this has only secondary bearing on laneway housing issues: (NOTE! This is from the 2011 Census)
[...]
Unfortunately, discussions around these issues have suffered from the incorrect reference to—and use of—Census data. Largely a result of not considering the precise Census definitions for the data, the discussions have at best misrepresented what the Census attempts to measure, and at worst supported misconceptions about housing occupancy in the region. Either way, if there is going to be a meaningful discussion about housing, and meaningful policy responses to particular issues or trends that we, as residents of the region, feel need attention, it is necessary to know what the data are and what they mean before we draw any conclusions from them.

In order to provide some clarification on both the definitions and the data, we purchased a custom tabulation of the Census data in question, thereby allowing us to more fully explore and explain two elements of housing occupancy: a) foreign and/or temporary residents and b) unoccupied dwellings.

The following is a summary of the major findings from our research, and it is supported by a technical backgrounder, Housing Occupancy in the City of Vancouver and Region: 2011 Census Results Plus, that details the data sources and definitions in question.

The Census Definitions

Among many other things, the Census counts the number of private dwelling units occupied by usual residents; this includes all units whose residents considered their residence in this region to be their primary place of residence on May 10th, 2011. Units occupied by persons who considered (or who were deemed to have considered) their primary residences to be elsewhere (in Canada or abroad) were classified as occupied by foreign and/or temporary residents. In this group are students who live in a private dwelling during the school year (and perhaps while working at a summer job) but at some point during the year live elsewhere, such as at their parents’ place. This group also includes foreign students, both short term (such as language students) and long term (such as graduate students) who lived here on Census day but have a principle residence elsewhere.

Also included in the foreign and/or temporary group are non-students who have a main residence elsewhere in Canada.This applies to people in a private dwelling in the region on Census day who have a main residence elsewhere in Canada, including those who were working here, on a short term or long term basis; visiting here to see or care for friends or family members; visiting as tourists; and those here on short courses and conferences. Another group or people included in the foreign and/or temporary classification are non-students who have a main residence outside of Canada. This applies to people, regardless of citizenship, who were in a private dwelling in the region on Census day but had a main residence outside of Canada, including tourists, workers, family visitors, entertainers and professional athletes (such as those who play on our home teams, but consider their homes to be elsewhere, and those who play for other teams who happened to be here, and in private dwellings, on Census day).

For these definitions, note a) temporary does not imply any particular length of stay, and can range from over night (in the case of tourists in private dwellings) to year long in the case of students - all temporary means is that people have, or are deemed to have in the case of some students, a main residence elsewhere; and, b) while much is made of the foreign within this group, it is much wider classification as it includes students, workers, friends and family, tourists and some of our sports heroes.

The Census definition of unoccupied units includes much more than units that are vacant on Census day. In addition to units that were empty (without people or furniture), unoccupied also includes all other units that were not designated as a main residence by a Census respondent and in which there were no occupants on Census day. These units range from the vacant and available for occupancy (including newly constructed units for rent or sale, and vacant existing units for sale and rent), to units vacant on Census day but with occupants on their way (e.g., people moving into a recently-purchased home), to occupied by usual residents who were temporarily away and did not complete a Census questionnaire and, finally, to being full of furniture as second residences for people whose main residences are elsewhere. It is important to note that the Census count occurs on May 10th, after the exodus of many students at the April end of the fall/winter academic term, something that has a significant impact on the number of unoccupied units counted in the Census.

What the Census Actually Tells Us

Foreign and/or Temporary Residents in Canada’s Metropolitan Regions

Given recent discussions about dwellings occupied by foreign/temporary residents in this region, it is productive to commence with consideration of how we compare to other census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in Canada. Dwellings occupied by foreign and/or temporary residents in the Vancouver CMA represent 0.8 percent of the dwellings in this region, about the same (insignificant) share as they do in other major metropolitan regions in Canada. In considering the 19 metropolitan regions in Canada with populations of at least 200,000, the Vancouver CMA was right in the middle of the pack with the Saskatoon and Regina CMAs (0.9 percent), and the Montreal and Victoria CMAs (0.8 percent).

The regions in Canada with relatively high levels of occupancy by foreign and/or temporary residents were the Sherbrooke CMA (2.0 percent) and the Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo CMA (1.5 percent), both of which have relatively large university and college populations. The Ottawa/Gatineau CMA was third-highest among the major CMAs at 1.2 percent, reflecting the influence of large post-secondary and political/diplomatic populations.

A similar pattern is seen when focusing specifically on the apartment markets of Canada’s larger CMAs. The 1.4 percent of the Vancouver region’s apartment stock occupied by foreign and/or temporary residents sits almost right at the 1.5 percent average for all of Canada’s 33 CMAs. Regions with above-average shares, once again, were Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo (3.5 percent), Sherbrooke (2.7 percent) and Ottawa/Gatineau (2.1 percent). There is no evidence in the Census data to indicate anything but normal levels of occupancy by foreign and/or temporary residents in this region: the greater the role played by post-secondary education in a region’s economy, the higher the level of occupancy by this group of residents.
[...continues at length with charts and tables, more examples...]
http://www.urbanfutures.com/foreign-unoccupied/
 

innsertnamehere

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yup.

They can be more affordable - but Toronto is naturally going to be more expensive. Markham's Cornell subdivision is mostly rear lane detached homes, and the builder gave buyers the option for a 1 bedroom secondary suite above the rear laneway garage. Lots of owners took the option, so the laneways are scattered with extra 1 bed apartments above a 2 car garage.

One is here, going for $1300. This is significantly cheaper than the closest new condo buildings, which have 1 beds starting at $1750 right now.


177150


The problem is that laneway houses are "cool" right now - so people pay a premium. Plus lowrise stock in a lot of these neighbourhoods has been so out of reach for so long that people are willing to pay a huge premium to get ahold of 800sf in them, allowing the projects to be built as up market units.

As with all housing, it'll eventually filter down and turn into something slightly more affordable. I'm sure some houses will go the cheap route as shown above as well, which given 15 years, will filter down into the sort of affordable housing seen above.
 

Admiral Beez

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Whenever I see the double level garage structures in the laneways my inclination is that would make a great man cave, with an elevator from ground level to the second level for my motorcycles, not to mention my model railroad and wood shop.
 

steveintoronto

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I definitely feel like 90% of these units will be turned into hip, boutique AirBnB listings.
That's an interesting point, and I may disagree with "90%" but certainly agree with the likelihood of a majority of them built for that purpose.

Quick check on regs shows:
Short-Term Rentals
Print
Residents and property owners are renting out rooms or entire units for short periods (less than 28 days) in growing numbers across the city, facilitated by the rise of online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, etc.
Currently, short-term rentals are not permitted in Toronto.
On December 7, 2017, and January 31, 2018, City Council approved the regulation of short-term rentals in Toronto. The new rules require short-term rental companies to obtain a licence and short-term rental operators to register with the City and pay a Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) of 4 per cent.
However, the City’s zoning bylaw amendments to permit short-term rentals as a use have been appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). They are therefore not in force. The LPAT had scheduled a two-day hearing for August 30 and 31, 2018, however at the hearing it was determined that two days was insufficient time for the proceedings and a five day period would be more appropriate. For that reason, the August 30 and 31, 2018 LPAT hearing was adjourned and re-scheduled for August 26, 2019.
The City’s regulations for short-term rentals will not come into force until after the appeal decision is reached.
If the City receives a positive decision at the LPAT, the short-term rental regulations will come into effect. Soon after, individuals will be given a period of time to submit applications for a licence or registration and the 4 per cent tax will be implemented. More information on what is required to collect and remit the tax will be available at that time.
If you would like to receive updates about the short-term rental registry and licensing program, contact mlsfeedback@toronto.ca to be added our mailing list.
For more information, see Chapter 547, Licensing and Registration of Short-term Rentals.

Key Points of the New Rules (Not Yet in Effect)
  • Short-term rentals are permitted across the city in all housing types in residential and the residential component of mixed-use zones.
  • People can host short-term rentals in their principal residence only – both homeowners and tenants can participate.
  • People can rent up to three bedrooms or entire residence.
  • People who live in secondary suites can also participate, as long as the secondary suite is their principal residence.
  • An entire home can be rented as a short-term rental if owner/tenant is away – to a maximum of 180 nights per year.
  • People who rent their homes short term must register with the City and pay $50.
  • Companies such as Airbnb must become licensed and pay a fee of $5,000, plus $1/night booked through the platform.
  • People doing short-term rentals must pay a 4 per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) on all rentals that are less than 28 consecutive days.
  • Companies such as Airbnb can enter into voluntary agreements to collect the MAT on behalf of those associated with their company.
Background on Council Decisions
For more information, see the decisions made by City Council to adopt a new zoning bylaw permitting short-term rentals and a registration and licensing program for short-term rentals and a municipal accommodation tax.
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/housing-shelter/rental-housing-standards/short-term-rentals/

I have to add that I favour the use of laneway housing for this use, with caveats. It is more likely to add a sense of community improvement by owners investing in their property to achieve an income that would otherwise be too expensive for long-term tenancy for most renters. It might have the added benefit of releasing space within the house proper for long-term rental. This might be something the City considers, including limiting the number of short-term rentals to one unit per zoned dwelling.
 
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jje1000

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Definitely a great start, and I think the next task to tackle for density advocates is the post-50s Yellow Belt suburbs. Definitely already a bit of noise there, and hopefully they can continue to push on that file.

Laneways aren't prevalent in that suburban typology, so I think densification should look at creating additional pedestrian connections through incremental development, redeveloping the stock close to major roads (like what happened at the area around Daniel's NY Towers on Sheppard/Bayview), and making better use of the existing stock deeper within the blocks.
 

Admiral Beez

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Laneway Homes Could Transform 310 Km Of Toronto's Underused Spaces

New city regulations allow many homeowners to build rental suites in place of garages.

By Samantha Beattie

What if most people don't want to build housing in their laneway? Being a residential landlord in Ontario can be an awful experience, with little profit and a lot of headaches, with tenants holding all the cards.
 

TheKingEast

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What if most people don't want to build housing in their laneway? Being a residential landlord in Ontario can be an awful experience, with little profit and a lot of headaches, with tenants holding all the cards.
Exactly. They want to push laneway housing but have stringent rent controls and some of the most anti-landlord rules out there. Give me a break.
 

CityStay

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What if most people don't want to build housing in their laneway? Being a residential landlord in Ontario can be an awful experience, with little profit and a lot of headaches, with tenants holding all the cards.
This may be true but it doesn't seem to deter everyone and their Uber driver from becoming an amateur landlord.
 

Admiral Beez

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This may be true but it doesn't seem to deter everyone and their Uber driver from becoming an amateur landlord.
Your Uber mention above reminded me of house sharing. If I owned a laneway garage I'd be building an AirBnB unit above it, not a permanent rental unit. The city may try to stop me, but I'd pay the fine and incorporate it into the fee.
 

CityStay

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Your Uber mention above reminded me of house sharing. If I owned a laneway garage I'd be building an AirBnB unit above it, not a permanent rental unit. The city may try to stop me, but I'd pay the fine and incorporate it into the fee.
There's using your noodle! Maybe your neighbours will have the same idea, perhaps with their principal residences. I'm sure you'd be fine with that.
 

CityStay

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The fatal flaw in the "tenants hold all the cards" argument is this:

Everyone requires a place to live, no one is required to become a landlord.

The landlord always holds the biggest card.

If you find that amateur landlording/Airbnbing is not for you, you can get out of it at any time.
 

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