The Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 amends the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, the Housing Services Act, 2011, the Building Code Act, 1992 and repeals the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act.
Originally posted on July 22, 2020
The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) strengthen protections for tenants while making it easier to be a landlord by helping both landlords and tenants resolve disputes. The legislation:
- Encourages repayment agreements for COVID-19: During a hearing, and before the Landlord and Tenant Board can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent, it must consider whether the landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant if the tenant has rent arrears from March 17, 2020 or later.
- Prevents unlawful evictions: If a landlord wants to evict a tenant to use a unit themselves, they will now have to inform the Landlord and Tenant Board if they have done it before and the Board will need to consider this when determining whether the landlord is giving notice in good faith. This will help adjudicators look for patterns and identify landlords who may be breaking the law. Landlords will also have to file an affidavit at the same time as they file for a no-fault eviction application so the tenant can obtain a copy in advance of a hearing.
- Compensates tenants for “no fault” evictions: When tenants are evicted for reasons such as renovations, repairs or a home buyer’s own use, most landlords must offer compensation. This requirement has been extended to landlords of buildings with one to four units who evict a tenant to renovate or repair the unit, and to landlords who evict a tenant on behalf of a home buyer who wants to use the unit themselves. These landlords will have to pay the tenant one month’s rent.
- Increases maximum fines: Amounts increase from $25,000 to $50,000 for an individual and from $100,000 to $250,000 for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Act.
- Increases tenant compensation for “bad faith” evictions: Landlords who evict tenants to repair or renovate a unit must give the tenant the opportunity to move back in, at the same rent, before offering it to others. If they don’t, landlords can be ordered to compensate tenants. Previously, the landlord could be ordered to pay the difference between the old and new rent for up to a one-year period. The changes give tenants two years to file a claim and increase the possible compensation by an additional full year’s rent, up to a maximum of $35,000. The increased compensation also applies to bad faith “own use” evictions, where the landlord/purchaser does not use the unit themselves.
- Streamlines Landlord and Tenant Board processes: Allowing access to alternative dispute resolution services like mediation instead of a formal hearing, where appropriate, will make it easier to resolve certain disputes. To further encourage negotiated settlements, landlords who reach an agreement with a tenant on outstanding rent – only if it has been filed with and approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board – will not have to go back for an eviction hearing, if the tenant breaches the repayment agreement. Additionally, requiring tenants to give advance notice of any new issues they want to raise at an eviction hearing will help everyone better prepare for hearings and prevent hearings from being delayed or postponed. If advance notice is not provided, the tenant will have the opportunity to provide a reason satisfactory to the Landlord and Tenant Board, or to file an application for a separate hearing.
- Reduces unnecessary and duplicative information: Landlords will no longer have to tell tenants how old the fridge is or give tenants a printed pamphlet that duplicates information in the standard lease.
It will also allow the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to set out a grace period for landlords who inadvertently use an older version of the lease when it is updated. Landlords seeking compensation for unpaid utilities, rent and/or damages from current or former tenants will now have their disputes handled by the Landlord and Tenant Board, rather than the Small Claims Court, to streamline the dispute process.
- Allows more tools for better enforcement of RTA offences: To improve enforcement processes, investigators will be allowed to get a court order to access financial records more easily in order to investigate offences relating to filing false or misleading information with the Landlord and Tenant Board. The admissibility in a prosecution of electronic documents retained by the Landlord and Tenant Board is clarified. The ministry will also have more time to enforce the rules when a landlord fails to reimburse a tenant for a refundable key deposit.
- Allows landlords to recover costs without resorting to eviction: When costs are incurred due to tenant actions, such as tenants pulling the fire alarm for no reason, landlords will now be able to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to recover their costs, rather than resorting to eviction. This change will come into effect on a future date to be named.
- Updates land lease and mobile home rules: The changes will allow landlords to maintain the health and safety of land lease communities and perform necessary maintenance by recovering the full cost of major infrastructure upgrades, like water and sewage systems, using above guideline rent increases, as approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board, without needing an order from a government authority. Changes will also allow the government to set rules in regulation to ensure that these costs are spread over a reasonable timeframe for tenants. Legislative and regulatory changes will allow landlords to charge for prescribed maintenance services unique to land lease communities.
- Allows greater flexibility for employers to provide employee housing: To help employers attract top talent, they will now be able to offer their employees an affordable housing option closer to where they work, and opportunity to build equity through a land lease agreement that meets their unique needs.
- A sustainable community housing system: Changes to the Housing Services Act, 2011 are based on four core principles:
- Matching people with the right housing based on their needs.
- Ensuring supports and services are flexible and that rules reflect local realities.
- Building effective relationships between all levels of government, housing providers, tenants and Indigenous and community partners.
- Promoting innovation and long-term sustainability.
These changes would enable Ontario to update the community housing system to ensure it is sustainable over the long-term. Ontario will consult with service managers and stakeholders on regulations to protect and grow community housing supply, develop access to system rules and encourage new, and innovative approaches. These changes build on the commitments in the government’s Community Housing Renewal Strategy and the steps already taken to make life easier for tenants and housing providers, including:
- Removing rules that penalize people for working more hours or going back to school;
- Making rent-geared-to-income calculations easier for tenants and providers by using income tax information;
- Filling vacant community housing units faster;
- Protecting people who live in community housing by allowing housing providers to turn away tenants who have been previously evicted from community housing for serious criminal activities;
- Building Better: To help increase housing supply, amendments to the Building Code Act, 1992 enable the future creation of an administrative authority that would help deliver faster and better building code services. The changes are enabling in nature and allow for the administrative authority to deliver delegated services at a later date. Transforming and modernizing the delivery of building code services also responds to the public health and safety recommendations from the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry.
While no decisions have been made about what specific services a future administrative authority would deliver, based on consultation feedback, the government has decided not to pursue the development of a framework to enable the use of certified professionals.
The province will continue to engage stakeholders on the governance and accountability requirements a future administrative authority would have to adhere to, how it would fund its operations, and the services it would deliver.