Rooming Houses, also called multi-tenant houses, is defined by the City of Toronto as a house, apartment or building where one rents a room and shares a kitchen and/or washroom with four or more unrelated people who pay rent. Rooming houses can also include some self-contained units/bachelor apartments.
The city permits rooming houses in some parts of the city and licenses some rooming houses. However, in Scarborough, rooming houses are not permitted and that includes my ward, ward 23.
During the recent election, I knocked on thousands of doors and heard what matters most to you, the residents of ward 23. I heard loud and clear on the issue of rooming houses and most of you are against them. I too am against them. I like even less the patchwork system we have across the city and the several unregulated/unlicensed rooming houses in Scarborough that are operating illegally and pose a real danger to the health and safety of the tenants.
I have listened to many of the arguments, both in support and opposition to rooming houses. I have stated before and I will do so again, I do not like rooming houses. With that being said, I realize they exist in large numbers and something needs to be done to address the safety concerns around this 'wild west' of rooming houses. This was something conceded to as well by those in opposition to rooming houses.
One approach to dealing with the current reality of rooming houses in Scarborough is to approve them, however, accompanied with strong enforcement of the rules. This approach is supposed to also have the benefit of helping with the housing shortage.
The City of Toronto has conducted extensive public consultations and prepared many reports on this subject. You can find all of that here: https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/get-involved/public-consultations/multi-tenant-rooming-houses-review/
I always like to hear what you think about the issues. Please write to me at Councillor_Lai@toronto.ca about what you think of rooming houses.