New Act Lets Tenants Down

A new act governing residential tenancy has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly and the PEI Fight for Affordable Housing (PEIFAH) is calling on legislators to amend the act with stronger protections for tenants’ rights. PEIFAH made 27 suggestions to protect tenants’ rights. The tabled act includes only 4. 

As it stands the new act still allows landlords to renovict tenants without any regard for where the tenant will go during renovations, or if they’ll be able to afford the unit when they are allowed back. At a time when the housing market is too expensive for many tenants, getting thrown into it without support is a cruel maneuver.

While the act does not guarantee secure housing for tenants, it does ensure secure profits for landlords by maintaining that a “reasonable return on capital investment” be considered when deciding on rent increases above the allowed guidelines. 

“Protecting landlords’ capital investment without offering protection to tenants’ right to their homes while so many are struggling to find adequate housing shows that the act does not view housing as a human right,” says Daniel Cousins, PEIFAH volunteer and tenant.

The act has also peeled back landlords’ responsibility to take care of their units. It has removed language from the previous act requiring landlords to maintain their property in good condition and now only requires they keep it “suitable for occupation,” and follow the law. At this time there is no law or regulation establishing a standard quality for repairs. Many tenants already struggle to get their landlords to fulfill their maintenance obligations under the current act. 

The new Residential Tenancy Act makes no mention of a public rental registry. A public registry would immensely help tenants in fighting against illegal rent increases by openly providing the rent paid by the previous tenant. This is something there is a clear need for, and we were told Islanders would be getting by previous housing minister Brad Trivers. 

It also does not mention no pet clauses, which have been putting significant stress on tenants and the Humane Society, who have seen a 134% increase in surrendered pets. No pet clauses give landlords final say over whether tenants are allowed to have pets and have already been banned in Ontario.

The new Residential Tenancy Act does not reflect tenants’ needs for security in their housing despite the preamble, which it’s important to note carries no legal weight, claiming to recognize housing as a human right. PEIFAH supports the Right to Maintain Occupancy, ensuring tenants remaining in their homes is top priority.