Housing Affordability

  • According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and RAHB, spending more than 30 per cent of before tax income on housing is unaffordable.
  • Housing affordability is relative depending upon housing prices, income level, and various things.
  • RAHB works with several community partners to help increase housing affordability at several levels.
  • RAHB also advocates for elected officials and city staff to use proper terminology when speaking about housing affordability and drafting policies and laws that affect Hamiltonian. For example, “Affordable Housing” is a term that includes all types of housing affordability; however, is used many time to only refer to incidences of social housing or subsidized housing. We advocate for clear understanding and use of proper terminology that can affect all Hamiltonians.
  • Articles on housing affordability in Hamilton:

Rental Licensing

  • RAHB has been a part of the discussions on rental licensing over the past decade.
  • More recently, RAHB has sat on the Hamilton Rental Housing Sub-Committee, which examined the issue.
  • In February of 2018, RAHB and various partners presented the Promoting Code Compliant, Affordable, Safe, Clean and Healthy Rental Housing report. 5-10 recommendations were directly suggested by RAHB to increase rental stock and affordability within the City of Hamilton.
  • In September of 2018, the Hamilton Rental Housing Sub-Committee voted to recommend to the Hamilton Planning Committee to implement a rental licensing pilot project for ward 1 and 8. RAHB, along with three other sub-committee members opposed the recommendation, as there were still too many unknowns and no defined plan to recommend.
  • In December 2018, RAHB acted as a delegate in opposition to the rental licensing pilot project draft plan as it was presented. During the meeting there were 17 delegates – 15 spoke in opposition of rental licensing and two (McMaster Student’s Union and ACORN) spoke in favour. The 2019 RAHB Government Relations Chair, Margaret Reid, spoke to the issue reiterating RAHB’s concerns with the pilot project as proposed. RAHB also co-authored a letter with the Hamilton and District Apartment Association, that was sent to Hamilton City Council and media on December 10 highlighting the issues with rental licensing.
  • RAHB’s official position is that the Association is opposed to the rental licensing plans as they currently stand because of:
    • A lack of comprehensive plan and implementation at the date of voting
    • A lack of integration of education within the proposed plan
    • No consideration for the recommendations within the Promoting Code Compliant, Affordable, Safe, Clean and Healthy Rental Housing report, submitted by the Hamilton and District Apartment Association.
    • The inability of the proposed plan to address many of the major concerns with regard to rentals (i.e. safety, number of tenants, etc.), and
    • The prediction that such a project could decrease 30 per cent of the rental stock in Hamilton, increasing displacement and decreasing affordability.
  • After the delegations and much discussion by the Planning Committee in December 2018, it was decided that amendments would be made to the proposal. Hamilton City Staff are to develop a comprehensive plan for the potential rental licensing pilot project, that includes:
    • concrete metrics for success
    • education for both tenants and landlords
    • an analysis of staffing levels
    • an analysis of the financial offsets for such a project, and
    • a review of the affordable housing and potential displacement issues of such a project.
  • This draft plan will need to go to another Planning Committee meeting, where delegates will again be able to speak.
  • Currently, the plan for the rental licensing pilot project has been delayed further into 2019 to ensure the above amendments are incorporated into the plan.
  • RAHB is extremely happy that the Planning Committee has asked for the above amendment to be addressed in the future plan for a potential pilot project.
  • Articles on rental licensing in Hamilton:

Sign Bylaws

  • RAHB continued to work with REALTORS® to ensure they abide by the sign by-laws in place within Hamilton, as well as the other areas of our RAHB market.
  • RAHB also ensures we keep REALTORS® informed with any changes made to sign by-laws – for example, the City of Hamilton recently added the Sign By-Law (10-197) to the Administrative Penalty System By-Law (17-225). This effectively means that real estate signs (open house, for sale lawn signs) that do not adhere to the current City of Hamilton Sign By-Law will receive fines of approximately $50-$100 per infraction. This amendment does not change the current sign by-law, but does change the way in which infractions are fined and the process to pay these fines.

Secondary Suites

  • RAHB believes that more Hamiltonians should have easier access to establishing a secondary or granny suite within their primary homes.
  • RAHB believes that easing the process to establish a secondary suite will 1) increase quality, affordable rental stock within Hamilton, and 2) increase affordability for those owning a home if they can have a rental income.
  • Currently, there are rules in place within the City of Hamilton that hinder the establishment of secondary suites within private residences, such as the number of parking spaces, the minimum size of a secondary suite, etc.
  • RAHB has been in discussions with City of Hamilton staff and we are encouraged by the attitude of City Hall to examine this issue and possible ease the process to establish secondary suites.
  • For more information, please visit the City of Hamilton Residential Zones website by clicking the button bellow:

Laneway Houses

  • The City of Hamilton’s Planning Department has recommended a pilot zoning for laneway houses.
  • The pilot zoning is simple in that there are only a few limitations for these new secondary dwelling units:
    • Must be on a property with a single family detached house only in part of Wards 1-4
    • Laneway house must abut a laneway
    • Max height 6 m
    • Max area 50 square metres GFA (gross floor area)
    • No windows on the second floor unless facing the laneway (or within the roof)
    • Maintain minimum distance of 7.5 m between the two houses
    • Maintain setbacks of 1.2 m between the side yards and laneway
    • No parking required for the secondary dwelling unit
  • The City of Hamilton is also looking to exempt development charges to establish a laneway house
  • RAHB is supportive of this initiative, as it will increase more and innovative types of houses that are affordable for Hamiltonians. We commend the City of Hamilton for thinking outside the box and bringing this idea to Hamilton
  • Articles on Laneway housing in Hamilton:


  • The City of Hamilton is currently working towards developing new residential zoning.
  • Although very early in the process, RAHB has met with City staff to ensure REALTORS® informed and engaged within the process.
  • We look forward to working with the City of Hamilton to aid the development of residential zoning, educate REALTORS®, and overall ensure buyers and sellers within Hamilton are well-informed on any new developments with regard to zoning.
  • For more information on zoning, please click the button bellow: