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Archive for the ‘Residential Tenancies Act’ Category

By Sam Tekerai, Guest contributor

During the current health crisis of COVID-19, the Ontario Government suspended tenant eviction notices that had already been filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Although that action was commendable, the government was already in the process of amending the existing Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, via its Bill 184 that was tabled prior to COVID-19.  Although Bill 184 legislation has so many facets to amend the existing 2006 Act, greater focus should be on needed changes to the ‘existing mechanisms of evictions’.

Bill 184, titled “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community” was tabled by the Ontario Government prior to the advent of COVID-19. It has now passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and is working its way through the process to become an ‘Act’. Once it is passed it will implement varies amendments to the existing “2006 Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act”, which came into effect on January 31, 2007.  That Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties. One is left to wonder if this nicely titled legislation “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community” could be a smokescreen for the real intent of Bill 184. These questions need to be addressed: Is the real intent to make it easier for the landlords to evict tenants, particularly those who are financially vulnerable going through economic hardship? Have these tenants reached some sort of agreement with the landlord to pay their ‘debt’ during the COVID-19 crisis?

Tenant advisory groups and lawyers have expressed concern that Bill 184 legislation proposed by the Ontario Government will have a major impact on tenants in general, but more so, on economically challenged tenants.  Tenant advocates are alarmed that after the current health crisis (COVID-19) has subsided there is a high probability that a huge number of tenants may be ‘evicted’.

The existing 2006 legislation has in place a mechanism for how landlords can evict tenants or to deal with evictions.  In short, first a landlord should give the tenant a “Notice of Termination” with the reason(s) to evict them.  That Notice should contain provisions that allows tenants to be given the opportunity and reasonable timeframe to resolve the problem. If tenants have a legitimate reason and don’t move out after receiving the notice, or if the landlord is not satisfied with the tenant’s resolution of the problem, then the landlord can ask the “Landlord & Tenant Board” to end the tenancy by filing an application. Of course, Landlords should have a good or an airtight justification to evict tenants.  Then, the board will decide if the tenancy will end after holding a Hearing.  If the board decides to make an “Order of Eviction” it will inform the tenants when they must leave the unit. If the tenants do not move out, then the landlord can file the “Board’s Order” with the court enforcement office and legally evict tenants.

Unfortunately, Bill 184 amendments appear to bypass the Landlord and Tenant Board, hence giving more power to landlords to evict tenants.  In particular, tenants who have the added burden of financial difficulty because of the current health crisis, and had reached some sort of financial arrangement in order to pay an outstanding rent amount (i.e. Debt), and had a signed agreement document with the landlords ‘without knowing the intricacy of the agreement’, they may now find themselves homeless if they fail to fulfill their obligation. Apparently under this agreement or because of this agreement reached between the landlord and tenant, the landlord can bypass the Landlord and Tenant Board and enforce eviction.

Tenants should read and understand any agreement before signing. In fact, they should obtain legal assistance (free legal assistance) to understand what impact it will have on them; especially those tenants who are the most vulnerable. Those tenants should give it the highest priority, especially in our big city of Toronto, where homelessness is rampant in the current erratic economic climate.

Although the amendment to Bill 184 is not yet law, tenants should be vigilant in understanding and protecting their “Rights”.  Tenants should/must fulfill their obligation under the lease agreement and be careful not to give the landlord a reason to be evicted.

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Refer to the links below for useful information:

FMTA Statement on Bill 184
https://www.torontotenants.org/fmta_statement_on_bill_184_2020?utm_campaign=bill_184&utm_medium=email&utm_source=fmta

The province says Bill 184 protects both landlords and tenants. Here’s why both sides hate it
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/landlord-and-tenant-advocates-continue-to-disagree-bill-184-1.5646147

CBC- Advocates say new Ontario bill gives an unfair advantage to landlords over tenants
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-rental-tenant-bill-1.5636914

CBC – Changes to housing act a welcome change, Sudbury landlord group says
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ndp-landlords-changes-1.5636899

CBC -Hundreds protest Ontario bill they say gives landlords more ways to evict tenants
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/new-bill-evictions-homelessness-new-powers-landlords-ontario-government-1.5639979

Legal Aid Ontario
https://www.legalaid.on.ca/

Petition to Protect tenants from eviction
https://act.leadnow.ca/stop-bill-184/

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RENTAL FAIRNESS ACT 2017
Amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006

The Rental Fairness Act was amended by the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario May 30 2017.

Refer to this link to access the amendment:   
https://landlordselfhelp.com/bill-124-rental-fairness-act-2017/

NOTE – Here are 2 perspectives on the amendment:

1) FRPO Submission to the Standing Committee on General Government ~ Bill 124 ~
May 9, 2017

Refer to this link for the full article:
https://www.frpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FRPO-Submission-to-Standing-Committee-on-General-Government-re-Bill-124-2017-05-09.pdf

2) ONTARIO’S NEW RENT RULE Get ready for a flood of AGIs (About Above Guideline Increases)
by L D Blake
June 29, 2017

Bill 124, the “Rental Fairness Act” (2017) have just achieved royal assent, becoming law.

Refer to the attachment for full details:  Ontario – New Rent Rules

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FMTA Response to Proposed Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act

In April 2016, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released a consultation paper which discussed Proposals to Encourage Small Landlords to Provide Rental Housing.

FMTA was a core stakeholder in the process and provided feedback about proposals.  Although feedback on the proposals was originally due in late April, the government extended deadlines to June 30th in order to provide more time for feedback from tenants.

The FMTA Board is concerned that these proposals constitute the greatest attack on tenant rights since the Mike Harris government.  More importantly, there’s no evidence that these proposals will encourage small landlords to provide a single unit of housing.

Major Proposals:

1)      Require tenants to provide legal disclosure for any issues that they intend to raise at rental arrears eviction hearings to the landlord prior to the hearing.

2)      Explore whether any changes should be made to the process for tenants appealing decisions of the Landlord and Tenant Board to the Divisional Court

3)      Explore whether to allow landlords to terminate a tenancy based on violation of no-smoking provisions in tenancy agreements

4)      Explore whether to allow landlords to prohibit pets in tenancy agreements in small buildings where the landlord also resides

Concerns:

1)      There is no evidence that these proposals will create a single unit.  The FMTA asked for any quantitative evidence (a study/survey) that showed that these proposals would “encourage small landlords to provide rental housing”.  The Ministry didn’t have any.  In fact the Ministry provided no estimate of the number of units they expect to be created by these proposals.

2)      These proposals will encourage eviction of tenants. Three of the most concerning proposals (pre-disclosure of evidence, allowing landlords to prohibit pets, allowing eviction due to breeching a lease) can already lead to an eviction.  These proposals simply make it easier for landlords to evict.

3)      Lack of Fairness. Applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board are already dominated by landlords – 91% of all applications.  These proposals will make it harder for tenants to bring up counter applications and appeal to Divisional Court.

Better Options:

1)      Zoning.  Provincial changes to the Planning Act for second units came into effect on January 1, 2012.  Did these changes encourage small landlords to provide rental housing?  Evidence-based analysis would provide an answer.

2)      Licensing.  Many small landlords receive no training on the requirements and difficulties for running a rental housing business.  Licensing could help better prepare them.

3)      Standardized leases.  Many new, small landlords are shocked to find they cannot ban pets or smoking outright or that some fees included in their leases are illegal.  Standardized leases would help train landlords to understand and follow the law.

4)      Better law enforcement.  While good landlords follow the law in terms of repairs, charges and tenant rights, they face similar difficulties and penalties to landlords that flagrantly break the law.  Providing appropriate punishments for landlords who break the law and incentives for those who follow it could help spur rental housing growth.

Contact the Ministry!
Concerned about these proposals? The full list of changes can be found on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website. Public feedback can be sent to residential.tenancies@ontario.ca.

SOURCE:  Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association
http://www.torontotenants.org

Important note
FMTA Annual General Meeting –  Join the FMTA for the 42nd Annual General Meeting on Saturday June 18th, 2016 at 1pm.
Location: 120 Carlton St – Party Room. Corner of Jarvis and Carlton St. Closest station is College Subway.
Refer to this link for more details on the 2016 FMTA Annual General Meeting:  http://www.torontotenants.org/

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UPDATE June 4, 2013 –  The NDP Municipal Affairs and Housing Critic Cindy Forster says the time has come to make renting in Ontario more affordable, by closing a rent increase loophole in the Residential Tenancies Act.  For more details please refer to this link:  Rent increase loophole must be closed,

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The Rent Control Guideline in the Residential Tenancies Act is once again under scrutiny.  It appears that this legislation does not protect tenants residing in newer buildings (either regular rental buildings or condos built after 1991) from exorbitant rent increases.

The existing legislation only applies to rental units that were built, or came on the market, after November 1991. Some observers are rightly referring to the rent control guideline in the Residential Tenancies Act as a ‘loophole’ or an ‘exemption’.

Given the low vacancy rate in the rental market, condo owners have seen this ‘loophole’ or ‘exemption’ as an opportunity to exploit renters. Many condo owners have opted not to live in their units and instead rent their units at rental rates way beyond what is outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act.  Based on the existing legislation, the hefty increase in rent is allowed since the condos were built after 1991.

In particular, rents in the downtown Toronto are being jacked up to pressure existing tenants to move and then the units are rented out to newer renters who pay the highly inflated rents.  The downtown condos tend to attract those who to live and work downtown close to certain amenities. In some quarters this situation is also being described as a ‘two-tiered system’. Refer to this link:  http://www.virtually-sold.com/component/content/387.html?task=view

Presently, the Rent Control Guideline is being debated at a Meeting of the Executive Committee at City Hall. A motion has been put before the Meeting of Executive Committee on May 28, 2013 by Councillors Anthony Perruzza and Josh Matlow to address this ‘loophole’ or ‘exemption‘.

Whether the Rent Control Guideline is viewed as a ‘loophole’ or ‘exemption’ all renters should be concerned about the direction this debate could lead.  The more troubling question to pose is “Will this debate lead to an end to rent control?” Refer to this article for views on the end to rent control: http://www.moneysense.ca/2013/04/29/end-of-rent-control/

Unless there are changes to the current Rent Control Guideline that will apply to all rental properties, many renters will struggle to survive in this tight economic climate.  They will either be forced to move out of the city and travel great distances for employment or remain in the city and become more impoverished.

Those who are concerned about this issue should do the following:

You can write a letter to Councillors on the Executive Committee to share your views. You can also register to speak at the committee – refer to this link: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.EX32.23.

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NOTE:  Check this link for more information on the legislation being debated by the Executive Committee:

Rent Controls in Ontario
http://www.ontariotenants.ca/rent-controls.phtml

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UPDATE – Check this link for details related to the 2014 Annual Rent Increase as well as the Automatic Rent Reduction in 2014http://wp.me/pia0J-ZA

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Rents will be reduced in 2013 due to the decrease in municipal property taxes. The percentage amount that a tenant can reduce their monthly rent is 0.71%.  This means that tenants can look forward to a small reduction in their monthly rental payments effective December 31, 2012.

Tenants should note that they do not require permission from the landlord or the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their rent by 0.71%.  However, as a courtesy, you should discuss how the reduction will be done with your landlord.

More information about this decrease in property taxes and the reduction in rent has been mailed out by City of Toronto only to tenants who qualify for the reduction.  The rent reduction applies to tenants in residential properties. The properties excluded from the reduction include public housing, non-profit housing, non-profit co-operatives, etc.  For more details on how this reduction is to be applied and to see if you qualify for a rent reduction you should check these City of Toronto links:  http://www.toronto.ca/housing/tenant_notification.htm and  http://www.toronto.ca/housing/rentlowerfaq.htm,

You can also phone the City of Toronto hotline 311 for further clarification.

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NOTES

1. Additional information can be obtained from the Landlord and Tenant Board at TEL: 416-645-8080 or at their website: www.ltb.gov.on.ca

2.  The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) has posted a Q & A that provides clarification about the rent reduction. Check this link: http://www.torontotenants.org/

IMPORTANT NOTICE ON LAST MONTH RENT (LMR) – The landlord must pay the tenant interest on the rent deposit every year. Under the Residential  Tenancies Act the interest charged on your last month’s rent will be equal to that year’s Annual Rent Increase Guideline amount. Landlords have the option to add that interest to your last month’s rent deposit or that interest can be applied as a reduction in your annual notice of a rent increase. Check this link: http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/Key_Information/STDPROD_098894.html

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UPDATE: A reduction in rent will also apply for the year 2013. For more details refer to this link: http://www.eastyorktenantsgroup.com/2012/12/13/automatic-rent-reduction-in-2013/
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The decrease in municipal property taxes will result in a reduction in rent for tenants in residential properties. This means that  tenants can look forward  to a small reduction in their monthly rental payments effective December 31, 2011.  Although the decrease in rent of 0.79% seems to be an insignificant amount most of us will welcome any reduction in rental payments in these troubled economic times. This modest decrease comes at an opportune time for tenants since the 2012 Rent Increase Guideline of 3.1% is a substantial increase compared to what was allowed in recent memory.

Tenants should note that they do not require permission from the landlord or the Landlord and Tenant Board to reduce their rent by 0.79%.  However, as a courtesy, you should discuss how the reduction will be done with your landlord.

Incidentally, not all residential properties are affected by this rent reduction. Information about this decrease in property taxes and the reduction in rent has been mailed out by City of Toronto only to tenants who qualify for the reduction.  The  properties excluded from the reduction include public housing, non-profit housing, etc.  For more details on how this reduction is to be applied and to see if you qualify for a rent reduction you should check:  http://www.toronto.ca/housing/rent-lower.htm.   For your convenience a sample calculation is provided at that website.  You can also phone City of Toronto hotline 311 if you have questions.

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NOTES
1.  The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) has posted a Q & A that provides clarification about the rent reduction. Check this link:  http://www.torontotenants.org/news/automatic-rent-reductions-2012-questions-and-answers
2. This reduction in rent is covered under Section 131 of the Residential Tenancies Act. Refer to this link:  www.ltb.gov.on.ca

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The 2011 Ontario Provincial election will take place October 6, 2011

At this time of fiscal constraints, inflation, jobless rate, environmental concerns and continuing economic uncertainties, the daily lives of many Ontarians are affected adversely.  In particular, many tenants seeking affordable housing face tough choices trying to keep a roof over their heads and feeding their families.  In this election it is critical that candidates seeking your support find creative (more…)

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The Annual Rent Increase Guideline and the Above Guideline Increase for 2010 have been announced. Much to no one’s surprise both rent increase guidelines are greater than those of 2009. The Annual Rent Increase Guideline has been raised from 1.8% to 2.1% and applies to a rent increase that begins any time between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. This annual increase is intended to cover the (more…)

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