PEIFAH – Summary of 27 recommendations for change to the second draft Residential Tenancy Act.
These recommendations include an end to renovictions, caps on rent increases above the guideline, consideration of tenants’ incomes in rent increase calculation and new rights for tenants to get repairs done including a provincial maintenance standards by-laws enforced by neutral, trained, property standards inspectors.
PEI Fight for Affordable Housing
Key Recommendations for the Draft Residential Tenancy Act
We recommend that the Act:
- Include a ban on evictions for repairs and renovations.
- Require landlords to temporarily rehouse tenants when major repairs or renovations are necessary.
- Ensure that renovations and repairs are considered as a reason to require a tenant to temporarily relocate only when they are necessary to maintain the integrity of the building and the safety of the tenant.
- Create a new position of Provincial Housing Planner who will provide resources to landlords in the development of a detailed relocation plan for tenants displaced due to renovations or repairs. Plans would be required to:
a. temporarily rehouse tenants during the period which renovations/repairs take place;
b. relocate tenants who are evicted due to demolition or change of use of the property.
- Place a cap on the percentage increase which can be awarded to a landlord who applies for an increase above the guideline. (PEIFAH proposed a cap of 5-6% in our March 2020 submission.)
- Reinstate the legislated cap on yearly guideline rent increases as per the first RTA draft. (Section 50(2)(b) stated that “the guideline for a calendar year shall be not more than 2.5 per cent”.)
- Reinstate tenants’ right to challenge a yearly guideline increase, currently covered under Section 23(4) of the RRPA. We recommend that this clause be reinstated in the RTA to give tenants the choice on whether they would like to dispute a yearly guideline rent increase.
- Remove Section50(3)(a) which allows the Director to consider whether a unit is vacant as a deciding factor for an above the guideline rent increase be removed entirely from the draft Act.
- Remove Section 50 (3) (b) – “the rent payable for similar rental units in the residential property immediately before the proposed increase is intended to come into effect” as a factor the Director may consider in deciding on an above the guideline rent increase.
- Add to Section 50(3) (d) – “a change in service or facility that the landlord has provided” the requirement that consultation with tenants must take place before a process is approved, and in the same Section, and
- Make it clear that wherever the tenant does not agree with the new service being added to their tenancy, they should not be affected by any rent increase based on the cost of introducing the service.
- Delete Section 50 (3) (e) – “a change in the operating expenses and capital expenditures in the three years preceding the date of the application that the Director considers relevant and reasonable” and replace it with a clause which specifies that only capital expenditures carried out in the year under consideration should be allowed.
- Regarding Section 50 (3) (l) “the expectation of a landlord to have a reasonable return on investment”, if this section remains in the legislation, capital investment must be redefined.
- Include local data on wages and incomes as a factor in rent increase calculation.
- Prohibit evictions on for conversion to a Short-Term Rentals. We recommend that this be included in the new Act by adding an exemption to section 64 (1) (b).
- Create a public rent registry.
- Change Section 63 to say that a landlord should not be permitted to serve a notice of termination for rent arrears on a tenant until the fourth day of the month (or rental period) and that the timelines for a ending the tenancy and filing a tenant dispute in the existing Act be retained (20 days and 10 days respectively).
- Section 28 (1) must be amended to include a meaningful obligation on the landlord to keep the premises, both inside units and the in common areas, in a good state of repair.
- We recommend that the PEI Government begin work immediately on the development of a provincial rental housing maintenance standards regulation.
- We recommend that Section 5(2) of the RRPA: “Subject to this Part, the common law rules respecting the effect of the breach of a material covenant by one party to a contract on the obligation to perform by the other party apply to rental agreements” be inserted into the new legislation and that the following clauses which attempt to do away with repercussions for a landlord who fails to do repair or violate their obligations must be taken out:
Section 105:Except as modified or varied under this Act, the common law respecting landlords and tenants applies in Prince Edward Island and
Section 20. (1): A tenant shall pay rent when it is due under the tenancy agreement, whether or not the landlord complies with this Act, the regulations or the tenancy agreement, unless the tenant has an express right under this Act to deduct or withhold all or a portion of the rent.
- Require landlords to: a) provide adequate information and equipment on recycling and disposing of compost and waste, and b) ensure that common areas are maintained in such a way that storing and disposing of compost, waste and recyclables does not interfere with tenants’ safety or wellbeing. These responsibilities should be included in a new section, perhaps inserted between 28 (3) and 28 (4).
- Section 61 (1) (k) makes an order from any level of government that the premises be vacated a ground for eviction. This needs to be rethought and redrafted, so that where a premises becomes unhabitable due to lack of repair and maintenance, the landlord bears the responsibility for rectifying the situation, rehousing the tenants and paying them damages.
- In addition, amend the sections on compensation (s.70 (1) and (2), (c)). Landlords whose tenants are forced to move because a level of government requires that repairs be made should not be exempted from having to pay compensation.
- Delete Section 28 (4) that says that when tenants perform repairs they must do them “in a good and professional manner”. This is a higher standard than landlords are held to, and unfair.
- A new section dealing specifically with landlords’ obligations when emergency measures (such as those related to the COVID-19 pandemic) are in place should be added to the legislation.
- More specific and clear protection from reprisals for tenants who enforce their rights, organize a tenants’ association or are a member of a tenant association. This could be done by adding to Sections 71 and 110.
- We recommend that Section 61(1) (h) which states that a tenant can be evicted if they fail to comply with a material term of a tenancy be removed.