Recently, Forum Research released the results of one of its latest polls about rental housing in Toronto. The poll found that the majority of Torontonians believe the City of Toronto should have authority on rental housing issues like evictions and the use of private bailiffs.
The poll surveyed 1,077 random Torontonians aged 18 years or older. Nearly 30% say the City should have a lot of authority over rental housing issues, and 36% said the City should have some authority. Oddly, 9% said the City should “not have a lot” of authority, but this seems to imply that they believe the City should have some. Just 7% said the City should have no authority at all, and 19% said they weren’t sure.
We feel like that 19% is significant, mostly because we think it’s somewhat of a vague question. Since we weren’t involved in the poll and haven’t talked to anyone who participated, we don’t know the context of this question. What exactly does “authority” mean with regards to housing issues?
Take the use of private bailiffs for example. Private bailiffs are hired to repossess items in cases of debt or evict tenants who are not paying rent. They can’t legally get physical or do anything by force. Is the issue with private bailiffs the use of them? Is it how they’re regulated? Is the issue that they are necessary? If the City had “a lot” of authority about this issue, what exactly would be (or could be) done?
When it comes to private bailiffs being used for eviction, 35% of the respondents disapproved, while 26% approved, and 39% said they didn’t know. How would the City use its authority on this issue when more than one-third of Torontonians don’t even have an opinion?
Another unclear area is whether the current rental housing laws favour landlords or tenants. One-third of Torontonians said current housing laws favour landlords, while 23% say tenants are favoured, and 29% weren’t sure. The remaining 15% said neither are favoured.
Clearly, these results are based on who you ask. Those most likely to say the housing laws favour tenants are among the most wealthy surveyed, living in East York and York. Those most likely to say the housing laws favour landlords are 34 years old and younger, and making $20,000 to $100,000 a year.
“Majority of Torontonians believe that the city should have authority on housing issues,” says Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, President of Forum Research. “Additionally, most Torontonians think the city needs to do more to increase the supply of rental housing.”
On the supply side, it’s a bit more clear on how the City could be pushing boundaries to get more rental inventory on the market. The poll found that 69% believe the City is not doing enough to increase rental housing.
Those most likely to say the City is not doing enough to increase supply of rental housing are aged 34 years and younger earning either between $20,000 and $40,000 or between $80,000 and $100,000.
It’s clear that this poll has no intention of predicting future rental housing policy or even triggering change, but it is a good snapshot of how Torontonians are split on issues prevalent in the rental market.