In September 2022, Davide Mastracci, The Maple’s opinion editor, updated his database that since 2021 has used public disclosure reports to track all Canadian MPs who are landlords or invested in real estate in some way. Last year, 128 out of 336 MPs – nearly 40 per cent – were found to meet that criteria.
A new update made to the database yesterday shows that little has changed — at least in terms of the number of MPs who meet the criteria to be considered landlords or invested in real estate. What has changed over the past nine months is that times are even harder for renters.
As Davide noted at the time of the last update: “Houses are too expensive for most of us to buy. Skyrocketing rents are forcing us out of our communities or into smaller and worse living spaces at higher costs. Some of us are even ending up on the streets, as homelessness is on the rise.”
Since then, the situation hasn’t improved for renters. In fact, the opposite is true. As reported by Global News last month, landlords in Toronto may look to hike rents to squeeze even more income out of renters in the coming years in order to turn a profit. Also last month, CTV News reported that average rent in all of Canada was up 9.6 per cent over 2022, with the average asking price for a unit now surpassing $2,000 per month (the average is even higher in the most expensive cities, like Vancouver and Toronto). Tenants in multiple buildings in Toronto are organizing rent strikes to fight back against their landlords’ “above-guideline rent increases,” which enable property owners to hike rents significantly above regular limits, supposedly to cover repairs and retrofits. Meanwhile, some renters increasingly live in fear of enforcing their legal rights, particularly after a landlord in Hamilton shot and killed his renters last month after the renters asked for repairs to be made to their unit.
This week, Davide’s update to the database showed that the total number of landlord MPs and those invested in real estate has remained the same since the last update, though the percentage is slightly higher.
The criteria for an MP to be considered a landlord or “invested in real estate” is if they and/or their spouse/common law partner/dependents fall into one of the following categories: They 1) disclose residential rental property that they earn an income from; 2) disclose residential rental property without disclosing any income; 3) disclose non-residential property (vacant lots, farmland, etc.); 4) disclose some sort of other involvement in real estate (for example as a real estate agent, or with investments in real estate investment trusts - REITs).
As Davide noted in the last update: “There are some vast differences in the extent of involvement in real estate between MPs included on this list.” This continues to be true, as, for example, Green Party MP Elizabeth May’s spouse owns a commercial farm, and earns rental income from a suite within a principal residence. By contrast, Conservative MP Marty Morantz jointly owns 21 properties (an increase of five since the last update), some of them “multi-unit residential rental properties,” as well as several interests in real estate corporations.
According to Davide’s latest update, 128 MPs met at least one of the above criteria as of June 13, 2023. This includes both Green Party MPs and 46 per cent of Conservatives, meaning the latter has the highest proportion of MPs meeting the criteria among the major parties. Thirty-nine per cent of Liberal MPs, 19 per cent of Bloc MPs and 16 per cent of NDP MPs meet the criteria.
Taken together, the Liberals and NDP, who made an agreement last year to keep the Liberals in power until 2025, have more than one-third (36 per cent) of their MPs who are landlords or invested in real estate in some way. As part of the agreement, the Liberal government pledged to make progress on their existing housing programs and election promises, including the establishment of a “Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights” and to refocus the “Rental Construction Financing Initiative (RCFI),” a heavily criticized program which provides low-interest loans to private real estate developers, on building “affordable units.”
The provinces with the highest proportion of MPs invested in real estate were Manitoba and Prince Edward Island (50 per cent each). In Winnipeg, generally considered one of the more affordable major cities in Canada, tenants looking for a new home are noticing steep increases in rent, according to Global News. According to Rentals.ca, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city increased by 5.3 per cent year over year. This is despite Manitoba’s guideline rent increase being set at 0 per cent in 2022 and 2023.
The following MPs own or jointly own rental properties in Manitoba: James Bezan, Dan Mazier, Marty Morantz and Dan Vandal.
What about the most expensive rental markets in Canada, Vancouver and Toronto?
The following MPs own or jointly own rental or investment properties in Vancouver and/or Toronto: Taleeb Noormohamed (Vancouver), Gary Anandasangaree, Shaun Chen, Mark Holland, Majid Jowhari, John McKay, Francesco Sorbara, Leah Taylor Roy, Adam van Koeverden, Jean Yip, Peter Fonseca (all in Toronto).
All of the MPs who own or jointly own rental or investment properties in Vancouver and/or Toronto are Liberals (the majority of MPs representing ridings in those cities are Liberals). They also all report income from their respective properties. In essence, this means that 11 MPs sitting in the governing party caucus have a direct material interest in house prices and rents in those cities continuing to rise.
Meanwhile, 12 MPs and/or their spouses/common law partners are invested in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). They are: Gary Anandasangaree, Scot Davidson, Cheryl Gallant, Yvonne Jones, Melissa Lantsman, James Maloney, Joyce Murray, Marty Morantz, Scott Reid, Leah Taylor Roy, Kevin Vuong and Kevin Waugh. REITs have been identified by housing policy experts like Ricardo Tranjan as having a particularly aggressive business model that depends on high turnover rates to meet the demands of investors.
In a recent interview with The Tyee about his book The Tenant Class, Tranjan said: “REITs provide a stark illustrative example of what the industry is, and what landlords can get away with. But I think it’s more of an illustration than a practice that is particular to them and them only.”
Find out if your MP is included in the database here.
Alex Cosh is the news editor of The Maple.
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