What does the outcome of the Federal Election mean for rental housing providers?

The re-election of the Liberals with a minority government will probably lead largely to a continuation of the government’s previous policies. However, we will not know for several weeks who is appointed the new minister responsible for housing.

The Liberals promised to raise the Home Buyer’s tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000, and to introduce a First time Home Savings Accounts to allow tax-free savings of up to $40,000 to help prospective home buyers to accumulate their down payments. Other promises were an Accelerator fund to help municipalities speed up their planning approvals, and provide offsets for inclusionary zoning, and to support rent-to-own programs. While positive for all forms of housing supply, those changes may result in some additional renters buying homes or condos.

Responding to tenant advocates in Ontario and BC, the Liberals also promised to stop “renovictions by deterring unfair rent increases that fall outside of a normal change in rent.” The Liberals promised to “require landlords to disclose on their tax filing the rent they receive pre- and post-renovation, and implement a proportional surtax if the increase in rent is excessive”. That plan seems difficult to implement, and impinges on provincial jurisdiction over rents and rent increases. Rental owners can hope that the plan will not be implemented.

The Liberals also said they would conduct a review of the tax treatment of “large corporate owners of residential properties such as REITs”, “who are increasingly trying to amass large portfolios of Canadian rental housing, putting upward pressure on rents.” The Liberals said they would put in place policies to curb excessive profits in this area, while protecting small independent rental housing providers. Notice that the review is not limited to REITs, and that the government sometimes draws the line between small and large at a place that leaves many rental owners on the wrong side of the line.

At the right time, in the right forum, the rental industry can show that REIT investors already pay taxes at their personal marginal tax rate, which can often be very high. The rental housing industry could also potentially address the discriminatory tax treatment of net rental income in the hands of rental owners with fewer than 6 full time employees.

For rental providers with taxable capital of more than $15 million (which includes borrowed money), there may be limits on how much interest can be deducted from gross rental income for tax purposes. That would result in some rental owners having to cut back on their leverage, or pay tax on income they have not in fact received. That issue was not addressed in the election, but it is something the rental industry is watching.

Turning to energy and climate change issues, the existing Canadian commitment under the Paris Accord is a 30% reduction in carbon emissions between 2005 and 2030. The Liberals’ stated energy platform goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45% of 2005 levels, by 2030. One of their policy levers is to be increases in the carbon tax from $40 per tonne to $170 per tonne by 2030. But carbon tax increases on their own do not reduce carbon emissions; reductions in emissions require behavioural change, such as building retrofits.

What would most help to increase rental housing participation in climate change measures would be government incentives to help pay for deep building retrofits to reduce GHG emissions. Otherwise, those retrofits are prohibitively expensive with current technology. Better, cheaper technology, and cheaper electricity would also be very helpful.

Over the next 4 years, the government may well bring in a new Building Code for alterations to existing buildings, mandating retrofits to reduce carbon emissions. CFAA is seeking volunteers with an interest in that issue to help us provide input to the National Research Council, which has the lead on that issue.

The Liberals set 2030 as the goal for all new buildings to be “net-zero energy ready”. (For example, that means all new buildings would need to be built with roofs strong enough to take solar panels, but some may not have the solar panels installed.)

A major federal Liberal policy is facilitating substantial immigration. There is a plan to increase immigration to make up for the two years which saw less immigration because of the pandemic. In a direct sense, increased immigration is good for residential rental housing providers because it increases rental demand, which leads to lower vacancies and increased market rents.

However, a higher proportion of new immigrants come to Canada’s major cities, and the extra rental demand results in less turnover, which reduces the number of rental units on which the rent can be moved to market through vacancy decontrol. Those direct impacts also cause problems for tenants at the low rent end of the rental market, and lead to public pressure for tighter rent control, which are negatives.

While substantial immigration is a positive for the economy, Canada’s age structure, and Canada’s place in the world, it would be helpful if the three orders of government removed the roadblocks that are delaying the provision of additional housing supply, which is needed to house the population we already have.


The rental housing industry faces many important issues which are addressed by all three orders of government. The best way you can protect your interests is to support CFAA, and your provincial or regional apartment association(s), and stay informed about the new requirements coming forward.

For more information about the issues, or about joining CFAA as a direct member, visit www.CFAA-FCAPI.org.