The Ontario government has passed new legislation, known as Bill 97 or the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, introducing a variety of changes the Province says will help it reach its goal of building 1.5 million homes.
Among the changes, two land use planning documents—the Provincial Planning Statement and A Plan to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe—have been merged “to support growth near transit stations and allow more homes to be built in rural areas.” Municipalities will also have “more flexibility” to expand their settlement area boundaries.
In terms of impacts to the landlord-tenant relationship, the bill includes new protections to limit “renovictions” and introduces changes to the “landlord’s own use” clause. Landlords will now be required to give tenants a 60-day grace period to move back in once renovations are complete at the same rent they were paying before. If a landlord fails to comply, the tenant will have two years after moving out, or six months after the renovations are completed, to file a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).
Fines for offences under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) will double to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. For landlords intending to recoup the unit for “own use” purposes, there will now be a deadline for the move-in date (yet to be set). Vacating tenants will have the right of first refusal to re-enter a unit if a designated person does not move in within the prescribed time.
Bill 97 also amends the RTA to permit tenants to install and use AC units in their rental suites. According to Joe Hoffer, Partner at Cohen Highley LLP, a tenant can now install an in-suite AC unit subject to certain conditions, as set out in 36.1 (3) RTA.
“The tenant must notify the landlord in writing before installing the unit; must ensure the unit won’t damage the rental unit; must install the unit safely and securely; and must ensure the installation complies with applicable law,” he said. “The tenant must pay for increased hydro based on the use of the AC unit unless a tenancy agreement expressly states that the unit may be installed without an increase in rent.”
Landlords can only raise the tenant’s rent to reflect the actual cost of the increased hydro caused by the AC unit—so where hydro is included in the rent, unless the unit is sub-metered, Hoffer warns that the “actual cost” is bound to be the subject of numerous disputes at the LTB.
“It’s a recipe for conflict and financial loss to the landlord,” he said. “Landlords should inform themselves of the new rules to avoid issues that are sure to arise.”