Published April 5, 2023

Ontario to beef up tenant protections, housing minister says

Critics have long called for rent control in the province, but the government has not said it will do so

By Liam Casey

Renters will have new protections against so-called renovictions, Ontario's housing minister said Wednesday.

Steve Clark said the government is proposing changes that include requiring landlords to give tenants a 60-day grace period to move back in once renovations are complete at the same rent they were paying before.

The requirement is one of several changes the government is proposing to help renters, Clark said at an announcement in London, Ont.

"When a tenant is required to vacate a unit to allow for renovations, landlords would be required to provide a report from a qualified person stating that the unit must be vacant to allow renovations to take place," Clark said.

"Where a tenant has said they wish to move back in once renovations are complete, landlords would have to give the tenant written updates on the status of the renovation and when the unit is ready for occupancy."

The province is also considering changes to standardize municipal rental replacement bylaws, he said.

Clark said he is proposing changes to double the maximum fines for offences to individuals to $100,000 and corporations to $500,000 who do not follow the law.

The province will also enhance renters' rights to install air conditioning, Clark said.

"Some landlords already provide air conditioning, but where they don't, they would have to allow tenants to install a window or portable unit so long as the tenant meets a few real basic requirements," he said.

In addition, the province will beef up the beleaguered Landlord and Tenant Board tribunal system that deals with disputes.

Attorney General Doug Downey said the province will spend $6.5 million to appoint 40 additional adjudicators and five office staffers to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

He said the hirings will help the board operate more efficiently after seeing lengthy backlogs increase due to the pandemic.

"The new influx of resources and staffing will help the board schedule, hear and resolve active and future cases faster because Ontario's citizens deserve better results," Downey said.

Critics have long called for rent control in the province, but the government has not said it will do so.

NDP housing critic Jessica Bell said she welcomed the new adjudicators, but remains trepidatious of any government changes because "they have not been on the side of renters."

"I'm not seeing anything in these new rules today that'll guarantee a tenant can get their home back," she said.

Bell said she worries about accessibility and equity issues in online hearings with the Landlord and Tenant Board.

"We continue to hear from tenants who have some real concerns with the online hearing process," she said. 

"If you do not speak English well, if you don't have access to a reliable internet connection or a computer, you could be removed from the online hearing process and be evicted just because you ran out of cellphone minutes."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2023.

Banner image - file photo - Barrie 360

What do you think of this article?

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What Barrie's talking about!

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox every day. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories