Islanders invited to weigh in on changes to Residential Tenancies Act

·3 min read
Prince Edward Island's Residential Tenancies Act hasn't been updated in more than 30 years. (CBC - image credit)
Prince Edward Island's Residential Tenancies Act hasn't been updated in more than 30 years. (CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. government is inviting residents to provide input on updates to the 30-year-old Residential Tenancy Act.

Key changes in the act, which can be found here, include guidance on when to grant greater-than-allowable annual rental increases. There are also new eviction timelines, a right of first refusal for units after renovictions, and compensation for people evicted without cause.

As well, the new act will allow for administrative penalties, and strengthen the complaints process and enforcement of the process.

Residents can submit their input at www.princeedwardisland.ca/rentaltenancy until Jan. 14. Those who require another way to submit feedback — including by written submission, phone, or email — can contact tenancyact@gov.pe.ca or call 902-894-0304.

Due to COVID-19, in-person engagement sessions for January 2022 are on hold. Online engagement sessions will take place instead, on Jan. 11 from 6:30-8 p.m. and Jan 13 from 6:30-8 p.m. To register for an online engagement session, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/rentaltenancy.

Brad Trivers, the minister of Social Development and Housing, said the P.E.I. government is trying to make changes based on input from previous public meetings, realizing that "not everyone is going to get everything they want."

He added: "The act hasn't been looked at in 30 years and one of the reasons, I think, is it is something that can be polarizing between tenants and landlords. So we're trying to find that balance in the middle."

I think is it is something that can be polarizing between tenants and landlords so we're trying to find that balance in the middle. — Brad Trivers

Rosalind Waters, a member of the advocacy group P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing, said there are "alarming" aspects to the draft, including the timing of its release — just days before Christmas and in the middle of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"It seems to be designed to discourage scrutiny," she said.

Of the draft itself, she said one of her concerns is the elimination of the 2.5-per-cent cap on annual allowable rent increases. IRAC would determine future allowable rent increases, with the decision based on discussions with tenants and landlords.

As well, Waters said the changes would give landlords the opportunity to raise the rent too much if the unit is empty, and the temporary moratorium on "renovictions" would be lifted when the legislation is passed. Instead, the landlord would have to seek approval from IRAC to evict a tenant in order to do renovations.

Waters said that gives landlords an incentive to evict tenants or "ease them out."

'Very alarming to tenants'

"This is very alarming to tenants on P.E.I.," Waters said. "This is kind of the beginning, as we see it, of dismantling what is known as vacancy control."

Trivers, however, said there would be specific guidelines IRAC would need to consider before setting an allowable rent increase.

"In no way does this mean that there's going to be out-of-control rent increase. I really feel that if anything, the tenants will be very, very well represented by this legislation."

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