What is in a name? When it comes to how Ontario sets rules for residential tenancies a real hint is in the name they attach to new Legislation. Many years ago, residential tenancies were governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act. The very name given to the legislation is descriptive of some equal footing between landlords and tenants. However, the pendulum swung very much in favour of tenants to the point where the governing legislation, passed in 1997, is called the Tenant Protection Act. Recently Bill 109 was introduced to the Legislature. The replacement for the Tenant Protection Act is to be called the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. The new Act will change the name to the Landlord and Tenant Board. Since landlords provide a necessary service, creating accommodation, many of the changes in the Act, and not only the name change of the Act and Board are most welcomed. The new Residential Tenancies Act will require that every tenant facing eviction will have access to a hearing or mediation and that all issues relevant to the landlord and tenant matter would be considered. However, this is balanced by the ability of a landlord to "fast track" evictions of tenants who are causing willful damage or interfering with the landlords reasonable enjoyment of the property. The termination notice period is reduced from 20 days to 10 days. Tenants will not be able to void the notice of eviction by repairing damage. In the case of excessive willful damage immediate eviction can be ordered. As to annual rental increases the guidelines, rather than being set by provincial regulation, will be based on a real cost indicator - the Consumer Price Index. Under the current legislation, a landlord is required to pay 6% interest on the last months rent deposit for the length of time that the deposit is held by the landlord. The new Act will base the interest calculation on the Ontario Consumer Price Index. With a significant increase in energy costs, tenants who receive rent increases due to higher energy would now receive rent reductions when utility costs decrease. Furthermore, if a tenant has a "smart meter" installed the tenant can have the electrical costs of the rent taken out and paid directly by the tenant. Also, a tenant will be able to apply to the Board for remedy if the landlord fails to maintain the energy efficiency of appliances and the building itself. The new proposed Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, introduces some very welcome change for both landlords and tenants. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice.