Have your voice heard!

Let the government know that you are unhappy with the new proposed law

The Government on PEI is in the process of collecting feedback and input from tenants and landlords on a second draft of the Residential Tenancy Act. Feedback is due by January 14, 2021.

The PEI Fight for Affordable Housing submitted feedback on behalf of tenants during the initial phase of consultation back in 2020 when the first draft of the Residential Tenancy Act was released.

While there are positives changes in the second draft of the Act, there are also significant setbacks. Some basic rights and protections that tenants have had for decades under the Rental of Residential Property Act (current landlord and tenant laws) have been weakened in the Residential Tenancy Act draft.

The draft chips away at areas of rent regulation setting the stage for even higher rents for tenants. It also ignores almost all proposals for important changes submitted by the PEI Fight for Affordable Housing.

Here’s how you can tell the government what you think.

More information is here. You can also register to join the online in-person engagement sessions on January 11th and 13th. But we understand that many tenants don’t want to be seen by landlords for fear of reprisals. We encourage you to add any detail about your lived experience as a tenant! If you make a written submission, it would be great if you could let us know. (Strict confidentiality kept).

What are our concerns?

Some basic tenant rights lost in the new draft

Landlords can now ask for a larger rent increase above the guideline if the rental unit is empty.

This means that the rule which has existed on PEI for decades, that just because an apartment is empty doesn’t mean that a landlord can charge a higher rent, has been weakened. This continues to give landlords an incentive to make a unit empty in order to increase rent.

Tenants’ right to challenge a rent increase which is at the guideline or below has been taken away even though it has been in the legislation for over 30 years.

This is especially bad because the cap on the annual guideline has been taken away so there is no limit on how high the annual guideline might be.

Landlords’ obligation to maintain your rental unit has been reduced.

For decades landlords have been required to maintain your apartment in good repair and comply with any laws or bylaws.

The new draft says that landlords must only maintain the building in compliance with any laws or bylaws, but there are no laws or bylaws which set out maintenance standards for inside apartments and common areas!

We need the responsibility of your landlord to maintain the premises in a good state of repair put back into the legislation.

Landlords will be able to evict tenants more easily if they have difficulties paying their rent on time.

The length of notice the landlord must give a tenant for non-payment of rent has been reduced from 20 days to 14 days and the time a tenant has to file a dispute has been reduced from 10 days to 7 days.

More recent changes helpful to tenants which have been reversed

The cap which limited how high the annual rent increase guideline could go has been done away with.

The recent quasi-moratorium on renovictions limited the situations in which an eviction can take place to those in which the renovations were necessary to maintain the integrity of the building and the safety of the tenants. That will be lifted and landlords will be able to evict for cosmetic renovations or those designed to “spiff up” the building so that higher rents can be charged.

Important changes tenants have been asking for which have been ignored

In coming up with a new draft Act, the Government of PEI has ignored almost all of the PEI Fight for Affordable Housing recommendations submitted in 2020.

We must continue to advocate for and demand:

That information on local wages and income levels be a major factor in deciding whether a rent increase above the guideline should be allowed.

At present the legislation ensures that a landlord’s ability to make a profit is a factor, while the ability of tenants to afford the rent is not.

An end to renovictions by requiring that a landlord temporarily rehouse a tenant, if necessary, while renovations take place.

This way the tenancy agreement is not interrupted and the tenant returns to the apartment at the previous rent.

That the cost of renovations which are not necessary to keep the building well-maintained and safe not be passed onto tenants’ rents.

A cap on rent increases above the guideline of 5%.

A property maintenance standards regulation which sets out in detail what repairs a landlord must attend to (e.g. a broken refrigerator, water leaks, a stove burner which doesn’t work, dirty hallways, floor tiles which are chipped and rising and a malfunctioning fan, etc.). Inspectors must be hired to enforce standards.

A publicly run rent registry.

Creation of a Provincial Housing Planner

who will work proactively with landlords and tenants to design a plan to rehouse tenants when they are being forcefully displaced by demolition, major renovations or change of use of the rental unit.