The Provincial Housing Ministry has announced a serious of changes to improve services for tenants and has doubled fines for landlords. The announcements were made April 5th, and it is expected that amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act (“RTA”) will occur this Spring. At the time of issuance of this Bulletin we have not yet been provided with the draft RTA amendments.
The province took aim at “renovictions” – those situations where landlords require vacant possession to undertake major capital repairs to a rental unit – by requiring an expert report proving vacant possession and a building permit are required; extending notice periods to allow re-occupancy by tenants (60 days’ written notice); extending the limitation for tenants to seek compensation due to Landlord breach of the right of first refusal or related provisions of the RTA (now 2 years from when the tenant vacates); and, substantially increasing fines for offences to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations.
New rules will be imposed on landlords who seek to obtain vacant possession of a rental unit for their own use or occupancy by a family member or caregiver, including deadlines for actual possession and evidence to support renovation timelines prior to moving in.
The proposed amendments will purportedly also grant new rights to tenants to install window or portable air-conditioners within their rental unit – although the details of same have not been released and we don’t know if the changes will be retroactive to affect the 2023 AC season.
The province has also pledged $6.5 million to hire 40 new adjudicators and staff at the Landlord Tenant Board in an attempt to address systemic delays. It remains to be seen whether the additional money will be enough to address the many deficiencies currently in play at the Board at every stage of the dispute resolution process: from the initial filing of applications through to the final issuance of an order by an adjudicator.
The government has also announced they will be improving “access to justice” by having mobile terminal accessibility services for tenants to better enable them to participate in virtual hearings.
Further details will follow this Spring.