February 2012-This should be of interest to landlords and tenants. However, I should give a brief primer. Residential tenancies in Ontario are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 ("RTA"). Administration of the RTA is handled by the Landlord and Tenant Board. As of January 6, 2012, there were some changes made to the RTA Rules, mostly procedural. This information is available on the Board's excellent website at www.ltb.gov.on.ca. The changes include: * clarification of Rule 32 on the role of the tenant or the landlord's representative. Most tenants and some landlords represent themselves while others use lawyers or paralegals. However, some use friends as agents. These "agents" are not licenced lawyers or paralegals. (Paralegals are now governed by the Law Society of Upper Canada). The changes clarify who is a true agent. * a new form is to be used in conjunction with an L1 Application (to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent) and an L9 Application (to collect rent the tenant owes) at the hearing stage. The new form is called a L1/L9 Information Update as of Hearing Date. It is designed to improve the effectiveness of the hearing process. The Board is encouraging Landlords and their agents to use the new form in all applications. However, it is not mandatory yet although it appears as though it will be in the near future. * a new scheduling protocol. This includes scheduling hearings of L1 and L9 applications on specific days in each Regional Office. With more predictable dates, this will hopefully reduce adjournments * online status. A tenant or landlord can now check the status of an application on line. The date and location of a hearing can be obtained. * changes to Suite Meters form. The Suite Meter Rules (ie apportionment of utilities costs to individual tenants who did not previously have their own meters). The original Suite Meter Rules came into effect last year on January 1, 2011. The change to the form is a minor one but the new one must be used for new suite meter situations. Also, the Board has confirmed that the maximum allowable rental increase for 2012 has been set for 3.1%. This applies only to existing tenancies of course (the Landlord can set the rent in his or her discretion for new tenancies).