Letter to the Editor: Changes to act add protections for tenants

Article content

Before COVID-19 gripped our country, province and communities, our government tabled the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act (Bill 184).

Our proposed changes to community housing — which are supported by Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada and the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association — would improve the waiting-list system, protect public investments in community housing, and give clarity to housing providers whose legacy agreements and mortgages have ended. These changes directly respond to recommendations made by the auditor general.

This legislation would bring in a suite of positive changes for landlords and tenants. It would compel landlords to tell the Landlord and Tenant Board if they have evicted a tenant to use a unit themselves before or to do repairs and renovations, helping the board identify landlords who may be breaking the law. Our proposal would also significantly increase fines to corporations for offences committed under the Residential Tenancies Act, increase compensation to tenants who have been “renovicted” or evicted in bad faith, and extend compensation for more tenants evicted for causes beyond their control.

Article Sidebar


Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content continued

It would also allow landlords to recover small costs — like those due to false fire alarms — without resorting to eviction.

At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, our government acted quickly by halting all residential evictions to ensure the health and safety of tenants.

We know that when regular hearings resume at the Landlord and Tenant Board, there will be a backlog of cases requiring resolution. That’s why this legislation is important today — in light of COVID-19.

Bill 184 would enable the board to offer landlords and tenants alternatives to formal board hearings to resolve their disputes and encourage negotiated settlements. If both the landlord and tenant agree, they can elect to go to mediation, instead of a formal hearing at the board, where it is appropriate.

Allowing these alternatives would make better use of board time and resources, while encouraging landlords and tenants to come to resolutions faster.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, every single tenant is entitled to a hearing at the board, and this would not change under our proposal. The RTA will also continue to ensure no tenant can be evicted without an order from the board.

Once an agreement has been reached through alternate dispute resolution, everyone needs to adhere to that mutual agreement.

Contrary to misinformation being circulated, Bill 184 would actually strengthen protections for tenants, and help landlords and tenants resolve disputes.

Steve Clark

MPP Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing