Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020
The proposed Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 would update the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, the Housing Services Act, 2011, the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act and the Building Code Act, 1992 to make life more affordable.
The proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 would strengthen protections for tenants, make it easier to be a landlord, and help both landlords and tenants resolve disputes. The proposed legislation would:
- Prevent unlawful evictions: If a landlord wanted to evict a tenant to use a unit themselves, they would have to tell the Landlord and Tenant Board if they have done it before, which would help adjudicators look for patterns and identify landlords who may be breaking the law. Landlords would 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.
- Compensate tenants for "no fault" evictions: When tenants are evicted for causes beyond their control most landlords must offer compensation. This requirement would be 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 would have to pay the tenant one month's rent.
- Increase maximum fines: Amounts would 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.
- Increase 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. Currently, the landlord can be ordered to pay the difference between the old and new rent for up to a one-year period.
The proposed changes would 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 would also apply to bad faith "own use" evictions (where the landlord/purchaser does not use the unit themselves).
- Streamline Landlord and Tenant Board processes: Being able to access alternative dispute resolution services like mediation instead of a formal hearing, where appropriate, would make it easier to resolve certain disputes. To encourage negotiated settlements, landlords who reach an agreement with a tenant on outstanding rent would not have to go back to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction hearing, if the tenant breaches the repayment agreement. Similarly, requiring tenants to give advance notice of any new issues they want to raise at an eviction hearing would help everyone prepare and prevent hearings from being delayed or postponed.
- Make it easier to be a landlord: Landlords would not have to submit documents to the Landlord and Tenant Board on a CD-ROM, tell tenants how old the fridge is and how much energy it uses, or give tenants a printed pamphlet that duplicates information in the standard lease.
It would also allow landlords a grace period 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 would have their disputes handled by the Landlord and Tenant Board, rather than the Small Claims Court.
It would also clarify that a tenant has 12 months to dispute a potentially improper rent increase notice, similar to other disputes.
- Allow more tools for better enforcement of RTA offences: To improve enforcement processes, investigators would 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 would be clarified. The ministry would also have more time to enforce the rules when a landlord fails to reimburse a tenant for a refundable key deposit.
- Allow landlords to recover costs: When bad behaviour costs landlords money, such as tenants pulling the fire alarm for no reason, landlords would be able to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board to recover their costs, rather than resorting to eviction.
- Update land lease and mobile home rules: The proposed changes would 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 without needing an order from a government authority. Changes would also ensure that these costs are paid within a reasonable timeframe. Since the maintenance requirements in a land lease community are different from other rentals, we will explore whether some types of maintenance costs should be treated separately from rent.
- Allow greater flexibility for employers to provide employee housing: To help them attract top talent, employers would 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: Proposed changes to the Housing Services Act, 2011 would enable Ontario to update the community housing system to ensure it is sustainable over the long-term. If passed, we will consult with service managers and stakeholders on regulations to protect and grow community housing supply, improve the community housing access system and encourage innovative, business-like approaches. These changes build on the commitments in our Community Housing Renewal Strategy and the steps we've 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;
- And helping those in greatest need.
- Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Dissolving the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation, through the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Repeal Act, would shift the financial responsibilities for various legacy housing programs from an agency to the ministry. The proposed change would have no impact on programs or the public, as the agency's work is already performed by ministry staff.
- Building Better: To help increase housing supply, the government is proposing amendments to the Building Code Act, 1992 to enable the creation of an administrative authority that would help deliver faster and better services. The proposed changes are enabling in nature and would allow for the future creation of an administrative authority to deliver delegated building code services. No decisions have been made at this time about what services a future administrative authority would deliver.
As part of consultations in 2019, we heard broad support for the transformation and modernization of many building code services and other proposed changes. While no decisions have been made about what 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.
We will continue to consult on the governance and accountability requirements a future administrative authority would have to adhere to, how it would fund its operations, and what services it would deliver.
Transforming and modernizing the delivery of building code services responds to the recommendations of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry to protect public safety.