Regulatory changes to the Housing Services Act announced
The Ontario Government recently introduced a number of regulatory changes that affect non-profit housing providers. The amendments to the Housing Services Act, 2011 are summarized below, according to their date of implementation.
Changes that come into effect on July 1, 2016:
Scholarships and bursaries are not income (O. Reg. 298/01, Section 50 (3))
All scholarships, bursaries and fellowships (including those from private foundations and universities) for post-secondary education will be excluded from rent-geared-to-income (RGI) calculations.
OSAP and most scholarships are already exempt, so this change won’t affect most households with students. However, it is important to check with your tenants to see if they are receiving private scholarships or bursaries and need to have their RGI subsidy recalculated. This is a change in the regulation, therefore the rent reduction should take place effective July 1, 2016.
Bank account limits increased (O. Reg. 298/01 Section 50 (9.1)
Households with non-interest-bearing bank accounts will be charged the imputed rate of return on amounts over $5,000. This is an increase from the current limit of $1,000. This will not change any household’s rent at present, because the imputed rate of return is zero per cent.
If you use software for your calculations, make sure this is updated so that your calculations will be correct if the imputed rate of return rises.
Income mixing in public housing allowed (O. Reg. 367/11, Schedule 5, Item 1)
The requirement that service managers ensure “as many RGI units as possible” are located in local housing corporation (LHC) projects has been removed. This amendment allows service managers to introduce income-mixing into LHC projects and gives them more flexibility in the allocation of RGI subsidies. It also offers housing providers greater operational flexibility and ensures that households who no longer receive a RGI subsidy can remain in their homes.
It is important to note that service managers must continue to meet their service level standards for RGI assistance. However, they are now able to use other forms of assistance, such as rent supplements, to meet the standards.
Changes that come into effect on January 1, 2017:
Reviews of service manager decisions (O. Reg. 367/11, Section 138 & 138.1)
Housing providers will have the ability to request a review of a decision by their service manager to suspend or reduce subsidy and/or take over a housing project. The amendments set out the structure of the review (the review body will be an individual jointly chosen by the service manager and the housing provider) and the costs of a review (to be split evenly between the service manager and the housing provider).
More discussion on the details of the review process is expected in the coming months.
Changes that come into effect January 1, 2019:
Requirements for Housing and Homelessness Plans under the HSA
The Province has changed the name of the Ontario Housing Policy Statement to the Policy Statement: Service Manager Housing and Homelessness Plans. The updated Policy Statement requires that service managers amend their housing and homelessness plans to align with the goals of the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy Update, including ending chronic homelessness and enumeration of the local homeless population. The new Policy Statement also mandates collaboration between service managers and local health integration networks and directs service managers to work with Indigenous organizations and housing providers.
A version of the updated Policy Statement will be available on MMAH’s website soon.
The full text of the above regulatory changes is available through the following links:
- Reg 298/01: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/010298
- Reg 367/11: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/110367
- Reg 368/11: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/110368
- Reg 369/11: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/110369
The Government of Ontario also introduced amendments to the Municipal Act, 2011 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006. These regulations relate primarily to service manager operations, but may be relevant to housing providers. The full text of these regulatory changes is available through the following links: