ONTARIO STRENGTHENS PROTECTIONS FOR TENANTS
The Ontario government is providing stability to Ontario’s rental market by increasing fines for unlawful evictions and reinforcing the necessity for landlords to explore repayment agreements before considering evictions. These measures are included in the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act which received Royal Assent.
“We know tenants and landlords have struggled during COVID-19, and some households may be facing eviction due to unpaid rent during this crisis,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By making these changes we are trying to keep people in their homes, and at the same time, helping landlords receive payment through a mutual repayment agreement. It’s a better approach, especially during these difficult times.”
The legislation, which updates the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and Housing Services Act, 2011, will make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions by:
- Requiring tenant compensation of one month’s rent for “no fault” evictions;
- Allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months’ rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs;
- Doubling the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.
The changes will also modernize and streamline the dispute resolution processes at the Landlord and Tenant Board and encourage the use of alternatives to formal hearings to resolve certain issues and encourage negotiated settlements. The Landlord and Tenant Board must now consider whether a landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before it can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19. Certain disputes, such as those related to unpaid utility bills, will shift from Small Claims Court to the Board.
In addition, as part of the multi-year strategy to stabilize and grow Ontario’s community housing sector, the government has made changes to the Housing Services Act, 2011. These amendments will help maintain the existing community housing supply by giving housing providers with expiring operating agreements and mortgages ways to remain in the community housing system by sigining a new service agreement with service managers as well as encourage existing and new housing providers to offer community housing. Changes would also require service managers to have an access system for housing assistance beyond just rent-geared-to-income housing, and enable an outcomes-based approach to accountability by modernizing outdated service level requirements.
Ontario will consult with service managers and stakeholders on regulations to protect, repair and grow community housing supply, new access system rules, and ways to encourage new, 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 simplifying rent-geared-to-income calculations, and removing rules that penalize people for working more hours or going back to school.