Landlord and Tenant relationships,
What you need to know!
The Rental Fairness Act has changed the relationship between a Landlord and a Tenant in more ways than one, the effects of the Act are significant for both. The Act that was introduced, leans towards stronger protections for Tenants in finding and keeping affordable housing which, we will discuss further below.
Its also notable that the Landlord and Tenant board has also undergone some changes regarding staff shortages affecting the hearing process, for the most part for the Landlords. The shortages are causing the waiting time for a hearing date that usually takes a few weeks to arrive, to now taking months to arrive, with the hearing date being months away. It’s become evident that even with a hearing date scheduled it may be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date, which now can leave a Landlord exposed for an unreasonable amount of time. I suspect that this problem is bigger than the RFA and its changes, as its becoming obvious that most adjudicators are finished and/or finishing their term and there are no replacements to take their place. Hopefully, the current government will do their job to hire and train adjudicators so that the public can be protected from unreasonable delays. If this continues it can cause very real harm to Landlords, so much so that the Landlords may be at risk of loosing the property if they fail to keep up their mortgage payments, especially if they haven’t received a rent payment for over 4 months and can’t evict the Tenant without a formal hearing. It’s a growing concern among most Landlords and i am hoping the government can get these adjudicators ready to handle hearings in a short amount of time or they will surely be facing a crises of sorts. I am confident that talks are already underway as this issue has been brought to the attention of the ford government just a short time ago.
Aside from the problems facing the board, the Rental Fairness Act has imposed new rules that may be seen as problematic by the Landlords, for example if you’re a landlord you now need to do the following to evict a Tenant for personal use;
Give the Tenant sixty (60) days’ notice and pay the Tenant the sum of one (1) month rent or offer them another unit that’s acceptable to them.
Before the changes, the Landlord only had to provide sixty (60) days’ notice with no payment. If the Tenant does not accept the above, then the Landlord must go to the board and prove that they are really moving in to live there. Prior to the changes the Tenant had to prove that the Landlord was not really moving in or that the landlord wanted them out for other reasons. The burden of proving the case is now on the Landlord.
Another notable change, is Rent Control, previously exempt categories now fall under Rent Control, see the following;
Units that were not rented since July 29, 1975;
Units occupied before June 17, 1998; and
Units that were not occupied for residential purposes before November 1, 1991.
Other Rent Control changes are the types of Rent Increases applications you can make, for example you can no longer apply to increase rent due to utility cost increases, so even if utility costs go up you can not increase the rent to cover those fees. For a list of units that are currently exempt see section 6.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act.
The Last notable change to the Act, is the new Prescribed Lease that is mandatory for any Tenant that moves in on or after April 30, 2018. The lease is about 13 pages long and was created to help Landlords and Tenants understand their rights and responsibilities better, and avoid matters ending up at the board that could have easily been resolved if they had a standard lease, as well, as reduce the use of any term contrary to what is allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act. The consequences of not using the standard lease after the mentioned date are the following;
The Tenant can withhold one (1) month rent if they do not receive the lease within 21 days;
The Tenant can keep the withheld funds after thirty (30) days from when the rent was withheld; and
The Tenant can end the tenancy early on a sixty (60) day notice.
The effects of this lease will be felt by both the Landlord and the Tenant, I think it’s going to be a great benefit to everyone involved as there won’t be much room to be confused about terms that are not in compliance, which usually triggers a dispute that ends up at the board. The standard lease is completely in compliance with the Residential Tenancy Act vs some makeshift lease that includes mostly terms that are not in compliance.
There are plenty of other smaller changes that have been made to the Act that is not discussed here, however, we do recommend any Landlords to familiarize themselves with them ASAP.