Residential landlords have fewer rights in Ontario since the Wynne government passed the Rental Fairness Act last year. The changes have been coming in stages. Some of the changes include:
Rental units built after 1991 are no longer exempt from rent control. This includes many condominiums in Toronto. Previously, a landlord in Ontario could increase the rent as much as they wanted at the end of a lease provided they used the proper form and gave notice.
Changes were made to the eviction process in Ontario regarding a landlord requiring the property back as they or an immediate family member requires the property for their own use. First, the landlord bringing this application must be an individual. Prior to the change a corporation with one shareholder could bring this application.
The landlord must now pay the equivalent of one months’ rent to the tenant as compensation for serving the tenant with notice to vacate. The landlord must pay this compensation to the tenant before the eviction date set out in the notice. If the landlord is unsuccessful at the hearing in obtaining an eviction order, the act now states the Landlord and Tenant Board may order the one month’s compensation to be returned to the landlord.
The person who intends to move in now confirms in an affidavit that in “good faith” they intend to live in the apartment for at least one year. Previously, the Residential Tenancies Act was silent on how long the landlord or family member was required to live there.
The law has changed to give a former tenant more rights. If a tenant moved out because they received the proper form stating that as the landlord or their family member planed to move in, and the landlord or their family member didn’t move in, the tenant can file an application. At the hearing it is now the landlord’s onus to prove that the notice to vacate was given in “good faith.” Previously it was the tenant who had to prove bad faith.
Lease terms no longer matter. New section 134(1.1) effectively takes away a landlord’s right to sue in small claims court for the balance of the lease term. If a tenant vacates prior to the end of the lease, a landlord can now only sue for unpaid rent up to the date the tenant vacated.
Starting April 30, 2018 all new tenancies will require prior to the beginning of the tenancy for the landlord to use the new standard lease form. If not provided prior to the start of a tenancy, the tenant can demand the landlord provide this standard lease form. If the landlord fails to do so within 21 day of the demand, the tenant can withhold up one month’s rent.
If the landlord does eventually provides the standard lease form within 30 days of when the rent was first withheld, the landlord may require the tenant to re-pay any rent withheld. However, if the landlord takes longer than 30 days from when the rent was withheld to produce the standard lease, the tenant may keep the money.
Why would the Wynne government make these dramatic changes favoring tenants? It is simple really. There are more potential tenant voters in Ontario, then potential landlord voters.