Residential Tenancies Act to be reviewed this year, changes possible

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As more landlords speak up with their problems, Service NL Minister Perry Trimper says his department will review legislation this year.

The government will look to speak with tenants and landlords, as well as special interest groups, while taking a thorough look at the Residential Tenancies Act.

The act has proven controversial for several reasons, the latest being the months-long struggle a Paradise landlord faced to evict delinquent tenants.

"Are there opportunities to further protect both [landlords and tenants]? Certainly," Trimper said. "And that's why we're anxious to do [a review]."

The legislation was last reviewed in 2012, when Paul Davis was the minister responsible for Service NL.

"It's clear there is catching up to do," Trimper said of the relevance of the act five years after the previous review.

The act sets out the rules both sides must follow, as well as a mechanism to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords.

Difficult tenants tricky to deal with

Eviction notices are an area of contention for some landlords, who say delinquent tenants have too many rights and cannot be swiftly removed from the home even when they cause serious harm to the property.

A notice of termination grants the tenant three months to leave the property, while eviction notices for other reasons — such as unpaid rent or breach of contract — bring shorter timelines.

Tenants can dispute the notices, however, leading to mediation, hearings and appeals. They can remain in the home during this process.

CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's Facebook page was inundated Tuesday with people sharing similar experiences.

One person said renters cost her $10,000 in damage. After the ordeal, she sold her rental property.

Another said she sold her house when she could not get the tenants to leave.

Calling for review for some time

Dozens of people commented with suggestions for the government to review the legislation and make changes.

Others, like NDP MHA Gerry Rogers, have been calling for a review and changes to the act for a while.

Rogers has previously taken issue with boarding houses, which are not covered by the legislation.

Last month, she again called for changes to the act when CBC News learned a former seniors home continued operating as a boarding home after losing its licence to care for senior citizens.

Trimper says the upcoming review is not a new decision, but rather an idea from his predecessor, Eddie Joyce.

He says the review will start this year.