New Legislature wants landlords to consider alternatives to evictions.
The Ontario government has just passed Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020 into law as a way to provide stability to the Ontario residential rental market by increasing fines for unlawful evictions, and reinforcing the necessity for landlords to explore repayment agreements before considering evictions.
The changes would apply retroactively to March 17, 2020, when the province first declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government believes that the legislation, which updates the?Residential Tenancies Act, 2006?and?Housing Services Act, 2011, will make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions by:
- Requiring tenant compensation of one month’s rent for “no fault” evictions.
- Allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months’ rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs; and
- Doubling the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.
The government also feels that the changes will modernize and streamline the dispute resolution processes at the Landlord and Tenant Board, as well as encourage the use of alternatives to formal hearings to resolve certain issues and encourage negotiated settlements. The Landlord and Tenant Board must now consider whether a landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before it can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19. Certain disputes, such as those related to unpaid utility bills, will shift from Small Claims Court to the Board.
In a related matter, the province’s residential eviction ban was set to end when Ontario’s state of emergency legislation expired. However, Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice?published an amendment?extending that deadline until the end of the calendar month in which the state of emergency is terminated. Therefore, the provincial order suspending residential evictions in response to the pandemic ended on July 31, 2020.