On Thursday, April 6, 2023, the provincial government introduced Bill 97: Helping Homebuyers and Protecting Tenants Act.
A portion of the Act focuses on helping tenants and landlords. Here are some highlights of the Helping Tenants and Landlords section of the Act:
Clearing the Landlord and Tenant Backlog
- Adding an additional $6.5 million to appoint 40 additional full-time adjudicators (more than doubling the current number) to improve service standards for landlords and tenants and reduce active applications and decision timeframes.
- Reviewing the current processes to find operational efficiencies.
- Exploring ways to expand hearing hours and scheduling flexibility.
- Providing adjudicators with enhanced training to support efficient file and hearing management.
- Modernizing the Tribunals Ontario Case Management System
Access to Air Conditioning
The provincial government is proposing to clarify and enhance tenants' rights to install window or portable air conditioning in their units. Included in this proposal is:
- Landlords would be prohibited from refusing to allow tenants to install air conditioning units in their apartments, providing the following conditions are met:
- Renters would have to notify their landlord in writing that they intend to install an air conditioner.
- The air conditioner would have to be installed safely and securely without causing damage.
- Installation would have to comply with any applicable laws, including municipal bylaws, and any prescribed rules.
- Tenants would be responsible for any costs associated with the installation.
- Renters would be required to inform their landlord about their air conditioner's energy efficiency and how much they anticipate using it.
- If the landlord pays for electricity, they would be allowed to charge a seasonal fee based on the actual electricity cost or an estimate based on the information provided by the tenant.
Reinforcing Rules Against Evictions
The provincial government is proposing to tighten the rules surrounding evicting a tenant in order to perform renovations. Under the Act, landlords would be required to provide:
- A report from a qualified person (to be defined in future regulation) stating that the unit must be vacant for renovations to take place and an estimated completion date.
- Updates on the status of the renovations in writing where the tenant has indicated their intention to return to the unit when renovations are complete and give them a 60-day grace period to move back in after the renovations are complete.
The province is also extending the period of time that tenants can apply to the LTB for a remedy if the landlord doesn't allow the tenant to move back in at the same rent once renovations are complete to two years after moving out or six months after renovations are complete - whichever is longer.
The Act is also proposing to further strengthen protections for tenants who may be facing eviction because the landlord or their family member wants to move in. When evicting a tenant to use the unit themselves or for their family, landlords or their family members would be required to move into the unit by a specific deadline, to be defined in a future regulation.
Doubling Fines Under the RTA
The government is also proposing to double the maximum fines for offences under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), such as bad faith evictions.
- Individuals - from $50,000 to $100,000
- Corporations - from $250,000 to $500,000
Ontario's fines for residential tenancy offences are the highest in Canada.
Rent Arrears Repayment Agreement
Tenants may enter into a repayment agreement with their landlord to pay the rent they owe and avoid eviction when they are in arrears of rent. To make it easier for both tenants and landlords, the Act is proposing to require the use of the LTB's plain language repayment agreement form. This form helps landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities and the rental rules that apply should the agreement be breached.