Ontario Proposes New Tenant Protections: 60-day Grace Period for "Renovictions" and Enhanced AC Rights
Ontario's government is taking steps to enhance the protection of renters against "renovictions", according to Housing Minister Steve Clark.
A renoviction is when a landlord evicts a tenant by claiming they will complete major renovations (or demolish the unit or convert it to commercial use). Landlords sometimes initiate a renoviction by giving tenants a notice to end their tenancy in the form of an N13 notice.
The proposed regulations will require landlords to give tenants a 60-day grace period to move back in once renovations are complete, at the same rent they were paying before. This is one of several changes the government is proposing to help renters, Clark said at an announcement in London, ON.
The proposed regulations also require landlords to provide written updates about the status of renovations while providing evidence that the renovation requires the unit to be vacant. The province is considering standardizing municipal rental replacement bylaws and doubling maximum fines for individuals and corporations that do not follow the law. The government will also give tenants more rights to install air conditioning.
In addition, the province will beef up the beleaguered Landlord and Tenant Board tribunal system that deals with disputes. Attorney General Doug Downey said the province will spend $6.5 million to appoint 40 additional adjudicators and five office staffers to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The new hirings will help the board operate more efficiently after seeing lengthy backlogs increase due to the pandemic.
Critics have long called for rent control in the province, but the government has not said it will do so. NDP housing critic Jessica Bell said she welcomed the new adjudicators, but remains trepidatious of any government changes because "they have not been on the side of renters."
While the proposed changes are a step in the right direction, many renters still feel that they are not enough. Critics argue that the government needs to do more to protect tenants from skyrocketing rents and renovictions, which have become more common in recent years.
According to a report by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, renovictions are on the rise in the province, with landlords using renovations as a pretext to evict tenants and increase rents. The report found that the vast majority of renovictions are carried out without proper permits or inspections, leaving tenants vulnerable to unsafe living conditions.
The proposed regulations are a welcome change for tenants, but it remains to be seen how effective they will be in protecting renters from renovictions. While the government's decision to beef up the Landlord and Tenant Board tribunal system is a step in the right direction, it will take time to address the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.
In the meantime, tenants are encouraged to educate themselves about their rights and seek legal advice if they feel that their landlord is violating them. By being informed and proactive, renters can help to protect themselves from the growing threat of renovictions in Ontario.