Guide to Rental Hearings

Guide to Rental Hearings


Written by Tenants for Tenants

Introduction

In PEI, the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) is the law that deals with the relationship between tenants and landlords. If you pay rent in PEI, it probably applies to you, whether or not you have a lease or rental agreement. There are some exceptions.

The RTA does not apply if you live in:

University or college dorms and residences

Hotels or motels for stays less than 2 months

Hospitals or nursing homes or care facilities

Shelters, group homes, corcorrectional facilities

Cooperative housing, also known as co-ops

If you and your landlord cannot resolve a disagreement, there are processes available. The Rental Office resolves disputes between landlords and tenants and provides information to both sides on their rights and responsibilities. Tenants and landlords are both able to file an application requesting an order.

You are always required to pay your rent. If you don’t pay rent, you maybe evicted. Being one day late gives your landlord the right to serve you with an eviction notice. If you pay all of the rent owed within 10 days of getting an eviction notice, that part of the notice is void. You must tell the Rental Office of your payment. If you pay rent in cash, ask for a receipt.

Before you start, know what you are asking for, not just what the problem is. You can ask the Rental Office to do things like:

  • Order a landlord to pay money they owe
  • Make a landlord comply with their responsibilities
  • Reduce rent due to an illegal rent increase
  • Make a landlord return your personal property
  • Do necessary maintenance work on your rental
  • Return your damage deposit
  • Throw out eviction notices that do not comply with the law
  • Let you break a lease and move out early

Complete Form 2(A) TENANT APPLICATION TO DETERMINE DISPUTE. Knowing what to write in the forms can be intimidating ifyou’ve never done this before. Remember, it’s more important that you complete the form on time than it is that you word everything perfectly. You can find all forms on the Rental Office website: peirentaloffice.ca/forms

File your application with the Rental Office.

Residential Tenancy Office

Mail

5th Floor, National Bank Tower
134 Kent Street
PO Box 577
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7L1

Phone

902-368-7878

1-800-501-6268 (toll-free)

902-566-4076 (fax)

Before the Hearing

Plan to attend the hearing. Call in advance and request a date change if needed. You can file for a proxy which means someone can attend the hearing on your behalf if you inform the Rental Office in advance.Review the Rental Office’s ‘‘Frequently Asked Questions”
at peirentaloffice.ca/faqs/ for more information.

Getting Ready

Prepare what you want to present at the hearing. Writing it down aheadof time can be helpful. Include everything you want to say, but try to beconcise and don’t repeat statements. Include questions you want to askabout claims your landlord is making. If you wish to have a witness givetestimony, you must let the Rental Office know in advance. Evidencehelps to support your position, so include things you think will be helpful.

Some things to keep in mind when choosing evidence:

  • Quality over quantity. Don’t submit 12 pictures if 2 will do.
  • Evidence has to be fair and cannot be obtained illegally.
  • Make sure your evidence is relevant to the specific claim.
  • Evidence must be reliable. For example, a statement fromsomeone who didn’t see an event is not considered reliable.
  • Failing to ensure your evidence meets these conditions can resultin the Rental Office not allowing your evidence.

Your evidence might include:

  1. Proof of a previous amount charged for rent
  2. Receipt of payment
  3. Statements
  4. Doctor’s notes
  5. Tenency agreement
  6. Condition inspection report
  7. Letters, emails and text messages
  8. Written witness statements
  9. Receipts and invoices
  10. Photographs
  11. Video or audio recordings

Your deadline to submit evidence will be on your Notice of Hearing.

Make sure you provide the Rental Office with everything you intend to use in your hearing on time.
Be aware that your landlord will receive an exact copy of what you submit, so black out any third-party information you wish to conceal before submitting it.

While a written record of the initial hearing won’t be available, decisions from appeal hearings are available to read. Some tenants find it helpful to read cases that are similar to their own as a way of learning what to expect.

You can find past decisions on the Rental Office website: peirentaloffice.ca/orders-decisions/

If you can, reviewing the Residential Tenancy Act can be helpful. Some of the terms you’ll encounter during the process and their meanings are included at the end of this guide.

Getting Help

It’s okay to ask for help. If you have questions before the hearing, theRental Office is able to answer them. Additionally, you may find it helpfulto connect with:

PEI Fight for Affordable Housing

Phone: 902-894-4573

Website: www.peifah.ca

Email: renting@legalinfopei.ca


Renting PEI

Phone: 902-940-5368

Website: www.rentingpei.ca

Email: renting@legalinfopei.ca

Working with neighbours

For some types of hearings, it may make sense for you to work with your neighbours. Working together is often helpful. If you will be working with your neighbours, here are some things to keep in mind:

Not everyone needs to speak at a hearing. It’s better to plan who will speak in advance and how you’ll divide up the presentation.

Meeting regularly throughout the process is helpful.

Plan a meeting a few days before the hearing. You may not receive the landlord’s evidence package until shortly before the hearing and you’ll want to go over it together. Some packages can be hundreds of pages, so plan how you’ll divide the research and share the work.

Living in a multi-unit building? Having one or two “floor captains” for each floor is a good way to share information with tenants quickly. It also helps tenants get to know their neighbours.

Asking for Accommodations

The Rental Office can provide some accommodations if they areneeded, but you need to ask ahead of time. Here are some examples ofaccommodations you could ask for:

If you file an appeal, you cansay dates that don’t work.

You can have a supportperson with you.

You can ask for a differentdate, if you do so in advance.

You can request anevening hearing.

Reviewing your landlord’s evidence

Often, your landlord will submit an evidence package to support their claim. These can be very big documents, and the timeline for review can be short. There are important things to look out for when you are reading through it. Make notes of what you find, and ask questions about these things in the hearing.

Being Renovicted?

  • These repairs must be significant enough to require ‘vacant possession’ of the unit. That means no one living there, and no personal belongings left behind. Could this work be done with you living there?
  • Check if any permits are necessary for this work, and if they have been acquired.

Being evicted for ‘personal use’?

  • Ask questions about how many people are coming, if the space is large enough for everyone, if travel arrangements have been made, if there are children, whether have they registered for school, etc.
  • A landlord can only end a tenancy for personal use for certain reasons, such as if they need the rental unit for a least one year to live in themselves, or for their parent, child or dependents to live in. A caregiver of those people could also be allowed.
  • Turning the unit into a short-term rental would not be allowed under personal use.

Do these numbers make sense?

  • Watch for round numbers with no supporting receipts or documentation.
  • Sometimes receipts submitted are simply handwritten notes and not actual receipts.
  • Checking that dates make sense can help identify issues.
  • Any vehicle costs claimed must include a travel log/km.
  • Watch out for services listed as included that aren’t actually being provided.

Are these actually capital costs?

  • Landlords often remortgage their property. But if that money wasn’treinvested into the building, it can’t be used as a valid expense for arent increase.
  • Doing a title search can help you learn the real cost of a building. Thissearch can be done during regular hours at the Registry Offices.There is an office in Summerside (Access PEI, 120 Heather MoyseDrive) and in Charlottetown (Jones Building, 11 Kent Street).

Read more about the Registrar of Deeds at: princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/finance/registrar-of-deeds

Being threatened or harassed by your landlord

Many renters worry that their landlords might punish them if they exercise their rights under the
Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). It’s illegal to threaten or harass someone to stop them from making an application or to retaliate against them for seeking help under the Act. Fines can be up to $25,000 for doing this.

Rental hearing process

Since COVID, Rental Hearings on PEI are conducted over the phone. Groups that wish to call in together on a conference call may do so.

Anyone giving evidence will be sworn in or affirmed at the beginning of the hearing. The Rental Officer will start by asking questions about the application. The person who submitted the application will present first. The person responding to the application then presents. Each side also has an opportunity to respond to the other’s comments.

There won’t be a written record of the hearing, so take notes. If you have an appeal, the decision will be made public.

Your landlord may have someone else represent them, and/or bring in additional witnesses.

Tips from fellow tenants

The Rental Hearing process can be very stressful for tenants. Here aresome things to keep in mind.

  1. Take deep breaths. Take your time.
  2. Don’t interrupt when the other person is presenting their case. Make notes; you’ll get a chance to reply.
  3. Even if you are frustrated by what is being said, remain calm and stick to the facts.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the chair during the process and challenge information.
  5. If there is a request for your landlord to submit further evidence after the hearing, ask to have access to it, and time to review it and respond.
  6. Charge your phone ahead of time.

If you win the hearing

Your landlord has 20 days to file for an appeal in most cases. Ask the Rental Office what the last day your landlord has to file an appeal will be.

If they do appeal, you will go through a similar hearing as last time, where your landlord may prepare more evidence to try to make the case.

Keep your paperwork until at least the time to appeal has passed. Remember to review the new evidence package carefully, as information may change.

If you lose the hearing

Generally, you have 20 days to file an appeal of a decision of the Rental Office. However, if you are appealing an eviction for non-payment of rent, you have only 7 days. This includes weekends and holidays. You should always ask the Rental Office when the last day you will have to appeal is. If you wish to appeal, you must file your paperwork with the Commission on time. You will need to also serve it to your landlord. Fill out the Form NOTICE OF RENTAL APPEAL.

It can be sent by mail, email, fax, or delivered in person to theCommission. You can find all forms on the Rental Office website: peirentaloffice.ca/forms

If you’re evicted for renovations

You are entitled to have a ‘right of first refusal’ on the unit when the work is done. This means you have the right to move back in when the necessary work is done, but only if you inform your landlord that you intend to exercise this right.

You must make this request to your landlord in writing before moving out. You’ll also need to keep your landlord informed of any change of address so they know how to contact you when the work is done.

Whether or not you exercise your right of first refusal, your landlord may have to pay you some rent and moving costs. Talk to the Rental Office.

Terms to Know

Greater than allowable increase In addition to the allowable increase,the RTA allows a landlord to apply to the Rental Office for up to anadditional 3% increase in rent each year. However, this increase requiresthe landlord to submit evidence to justify that this increase is necessary.


Allowable increase The RTA gives the Rental Office the power to setan amount that rent can go up each year. This amount cannot exceed3%. The amount between 0% – 3% that landlords are allowed toincrease the rent each year without requiring special permission is calledan allowable increase. As long as you are given 3 months notice,thisamount does not need to be approved.


Appeal Asking the Commission to reconsider the decision of theRental Office. Anyone dissatisfied with an order of the Rental Office mayappeal to the Commission.


Application A party submitting proper forms to the Rental Officerequesting they make an order is called an application.


Bad Faith When a party is intentionally dishonest. An example of thiscould be a landlord evicting a tenant to have the unit for ‘personal use’,when they actually intend to rent it again for a higher rate.


Capital Costs Bigger investments that improve or upgrade theproperty beyond the condition it was originally in. For example, replacinga plumbing system is a capital cost.


Commission This refers to the Commissioner of Island Regulatory andAppeals Commission, the office that hears appeals of decisions made atthe Rental Office level.


Director The director refers to the Director of the Rental Office, theoffice that holds rental hearings.


Dispute A dispute is a disagreement between a landlord and tenant.This can be a disagreement on the facts of the situation, or adisagreement on whether the other party is living up to their obligationsunder the RTA. Dispute can also mean to challenge. For example, youcan dispute your eviction notice. That means you are asking the RentalOffice to review the situation and make an order to set aside the notice.


Fixed-term tenancy This means you have a rental agreement withyour landlord that ends on a specific date.


Hearing This is the formal process to resolve a dispute between tenantand landlord. Both sides have an opportunity to present their case. TheRental Office will make a decision based on what is presented, and onwhat the RTA says.


Interfere with Quiet Enjoyment quiet enjoyment refers to the righttenants have to reasonable privacy and freedom from disturbances.Interference with quiet enjoyment often refers to unreasonable noise,but can also mean harassment from other tenants or the landlord.


Maintenance Costs The costs of doing the routine maintenance that isrequired to keep up the condition of the building or the unit. Forexample, fixing leaky pipes is a maintenance cost.