Bill 184 was introduced on March 12, just prior to the adjournment of the Ontario Legislative Assembly due to health risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Provincial Housing Supply Action Plan Consultation, held in December 2018 and January 2019, informed the development of the legislation and has been referenced on numerous occasions by the government throughout the legislative process. LSHC’s submission for that consultation contained twenty-seven recommendations which represented common issues and pitfalls small landlords routinely face and was developed using the input we received from small landlords through an online poll.
Bill 184 includes reforms which would improve the operating environment for small landlords:
- Remedies for unpaid utilities;
- Require notice from tenants of their intention to raise new issues at a non-payment of rent hearing;
- Allow landlords to make post tenancy applications to the LTB for monies owed, just as tenants are able to do, rather than the Small Claims Court;
- Pre-Hearing Repayment Agreements which can include a provision for an ex-parte eviction order, (without a hearing) for a breach of the agreement;
- Landlords can apply to LTB for damages due to tenant’s behavior – such as tampering with CO detector.
Another positive amendment and improvement for landlords is the clarification of the rules respecting lawful rent. The amendment would permit an improper notice of rent increase to be deemed lawful if the tenant has paid the increased rent for 12 consecutive months and has not disputed the increase.
The Bill also includes enhanced protection provisions respecting landlord’s bad faith, these include:
- The doubling of fines – individuals from $25,000 to $50,000 and Corporations from $100,000 to $250,000;
- The new rent paid by the tenant for one year;
- 1 month rent as compensation when termination is sought for purchaser’s own use;
- the payment of 1 month compensation when termination is sought for renovation and/or repairs in a rental property containing fewer than 5 units;
- Increase time for tenant to file for bad faith compensation for 1 year to 2 years
- Consideration of landlord’s previous action on no-fault grounds N12 and N13
The Province scheduled Second Reading of Bill 184 on May 26, 2020, despite an agreement between the government and the opposition that business in the spring session would be COVID-related only. The Bill carried on division and it was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy on May 27 for further study. This included public submissions, both oral and written, and a clause by clause review.
Three days of hearings were held on June 24, 25 and 26 before the all-party Social Policy Standing Committee with written submissions accepted until 6 pm on June 26, 2020. The hearings were dominated by tenant-side interested parties, both individuals and groups. The issues raised by tenant-side presenters included: evictions with no hearing; illegal rent increases becoming legal; no opportunity to raise issues in dispute; and tenants will be forced into settlement agreements
Several small landlords appeared before the committee and made excellent submissions which shed light on the challenges and struggles faced as a result of the regulatory environment and the long delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Teresa Almeida, who is a small landlord that made a strong submission, has posted her presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ4lWyPe1tw&t=48s
A few tenant deputants acknowledged the difference between large corporate landlords and small landlords, this was noted and reiterated by some of the committee members with one noting that perhaps the difference ought to be recognized in the legislation. LSHC prepared and submitted a written submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. The Committee completed consideration of Bill 184 and has reported to the Legislature. It passed two amendments:
- Section 83 – the following was added: Refusal for certain arrears of rent – (6) Without restricting the generality of subsections (1) and (2), if a hearing is held in respect of an application under section 69 for an order evicting a tenant based on arrears of rent arising in whole or in part during the period beginning on March 17, 2020 and ending on the prescribed date, in determining whether to exercise its powers under subsection (1) the Board shall consider whether the landlord has attempted to negotiate an agreement with the tenant including terms of payment for the tenant’s arrears; and
- Section 194 (1) removed the “if the parties consent to participating in the mediation or other dispute resolution” provision.
Following the Report of the Standing Committee on July 6, 2020, Bill 184 has been ordered for Third Reading.