The city of Ottawa has identified a "potential tool" that would protect tenants from renovictions, by preventing a residential building with six or more units from being demolished without a permit.

A joint meeting of the community and protective services committee and planning committee this morning will discuss ideas to address anti-renoviction proposals to protect tenants.

Renoviction refers to evictions that occur when a landlord undertakes renovations to a rental property and "then replaces the evicted tenants with those who would pay higher rents after the renovations are completed," says a report for today's meeting.

In November 2020, council directed staff to look at all the municipal tools available to prevent or prohibit renovictions in the city.

Staff say while an outright ban on all renovictions is not within the scope of the municipality's authority, they have identified, "as a potential tool", ways to prevent the further loss of affordable rental units.

The Municipal Act allows the city to "prohibit the 'conversion of residential rental properties to a purpose other than the purpose of a residential rental property', of 6 units or more, without a permit," the report says.

"The municipality may impose conditions on the permit and may require an agreement be registered on title."

The report says "this power" would prevent a residential unit or building from being used as a business or turned into a condominium, unless a permit was granted by Council.

Staff recommend the committees direct staff to prepare a proposal to explore the feasibility of a new bylaw to prohibit the full or partial demolition or conversion of residential and rental housing of six or more units without a permit issued by the city.

The report notes "every unit counts" for housing.

The committees are also being asked to direct the mayor write to the Ontario government asking for legislative changes to protect existing tenants and affordable housing stock by updating the Residential Tenancies Act to "further prevent and prohibit instances of renovictions."