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Landlord and Tenant Law to Be Amended

Get ready for some amendments to the Tenant Protection Act. According to a recent statement by Municipal Affairs Minister, John, Gerretsen, the Ontario Government is finally set to deliver on a long standing election promise to establish new rules between landlords and tenants, when Dalton McGinty said he would "restore rent controls". Some would say that just because an election promise is made, is not a good reason to bring in changes, if the circumstances either change or the reason for the election promise prove not be right. Just a quick primer on our existing system; the existing Tenant Protection Act basically provides for rent control (the maximum increase is set by the Government yearly) while a tenant stays in the rental unit. However, when a tenant moves out, the landlord is able to set whatever rent he or she deems fit (some call this "vacancy decontrol"). This was a change from the previous system in place for many years (since 1975) of rent controls on rental properties regards of whether or not a tenant moved out. Rumour has it that the legislation will borrow from the opposition parties' platforms (Conservatives and NDP) but that the Government will not do away with "vacancy decontrol". However, we will not know until we see the legislation unveiled. There has been a tug of war of course between landlords and tenants on this issue for years. The reason for the delay in bringing in the legislation is that vacancy rates have been relatively high in most areas of the Province (Toronto is 4.7 % and the Provincial average is 3.8% currently). Thus, landlords say that we do not need rent controls extended in any way and the existing system is working fine. Tenants argue that the vacancy rates may not remain high in the future. They say that existing rent controls can be exceeded under the current system for capital improvements, which are doctored up by some large corporate landlords. They also argue that they need tougher legislation to deal with bad landlords. They also complain about the "default-eviction orders" which some landlords have taken advantage of (if there is no dispute within 5 days of a landlord's claim of non-payment of rent, a default eviction order is given, without a hearing). Landlords counter that they need a more streamlined eviction process to get rid of the "tenants from hell" (deadbeat tenants who go from place to place only paying initial rent). Both groups may get some of their wishes granted in what is rumoured to be a compromise, balancing these competing interests. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.

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