Presentation on theme: "MISSISSAUGA COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES PRESENTS: FREE PUBLIC LEGAL EDUCATION SEMINARS 2008 Fix it or pay me: How to file a Tenants Rights Application April."— Presentation transcript:
MISSISSAUGA COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES PRESENTS: FREE PUBLIC LEGAL EDUCATION SEMINARS 2008 Fix it or pay me: How to file a Tenants Rights Application April 24, 2008 This seminar will cover: Strategies to enforce your rights How to get your landlord to complete repairs or problems with your home How to use the citys bylaw enforcement to your advantage Ways to participate in the Landlord and Tenant Board to ensure your rights are protected
Sources of Tenants Rights Law Property Standards By-Law Adequate Heat By-Law Occupancy By-Law Building Code Act Fire Protection and Prevention Act Human Rights Code Residential Tenancies Act
The Act provides basic protections for residential tenants. The Act does not cover: -commercial tenancies; -tenants who share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner or their immediate family; -persons living in co-ops; -persons residing in nursing homes, emergency shelters, student residences or other institutional facilities.
RTA: Leases and tenancy agreements Contracts between the owner and the tenant outlining the length of the tenancy, amount of rent and the terms of the rental relationship, such as whether the utilities are included in the rent. Read lease carefully before you sign it and ask for help if you do not understand it. Under the Human Rights Code it is illegal to refuse to rent to you because of your race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, marital status, family status, sex, disability or the receipt of public assistance.
RTA: Leases and tenancy agreements contd Sixteen and seventeen year olds who have withdrawn from parental control can sign leases and tenancy agreements and be responsible for them as if they were eighteen. The Act still covers you even if you do not have a lease or tenancy agreement. You do not have to renew your lease when it expires, you automatically become a month to month tenant. All the terms of your original lease continue even if you do not sign a new lease. Your lease cannot make you take an apartment as is even if you knew about the maintenance issue before you moved in. The lease must set out the legal name and address of the landlord. If landlord fails to provide this information then the tenants obligations to pay the rent is suspended.
RTA: Rules Relating to Rent A landlord can only ask a new tenant to pay first and last months rent. A key deposit can be requested but it cannot be more than the cost of replacing the key. Rent can only be increased once per year in accordance to a guideline amount set out by the government. The landlord must provide the tenant with 90 days notice prior to the implementation of the new rental amount. However, a landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an increase in rent above the guideline amount if the landlord has incurred significant increase in their costs. Eg. Utilities. If a landlord cannot provide a vacant unit to a prospective tenant then the landlord shall repay the amount received as a rent deposit. A landlord cannot demand that a tenant provide post dated cheques or agree to automatic debiting of their account. A landlord must provide a tenant with rent receipts free of charge.
RTA: Privacy The landlord can only enter a unit between 8am and 8pm to conduct a maintenance inspection, if something needs to be fixed, to show the unit to prospective tenants if the tenant has given notice to move out. The landlord must provide a written notice with an explanation of the reason for the entry 24 hours prior to the entry for the purposes of the inspection or repair. The landlord only needs to make a reasonable effort to notify the tenant in the case of showing the unit. A landlord can enter a unit at any time without notice if there is an emergency.
RTA: Maintenance issues Landlord must clean and maintain all common areas of the residential premises such as cleaning the hallways, the laundry room, and shoveling the snow. The landlord must keep the building in a good state of repair and fit for habitation. The landlord must also comply with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. The landlord is responsible to fix anything that breaks or does not work properly such as a broken refrigerator. If the tenant breaks it then it is the tenants responsibility to fix. The landlord must maintain a pest free environment.
RTA: other A landlord cannot change a tenants locks without providing the tenant with a set of new keys. A landlord cannot withhold the supply of a vital service such as water or electricity. A landlord cannot prohibit pets in a building. Tenants are entitled to be paid interest annually on their last months rent deposit. Interest is based upon a rate set by the Ontario government. After a tenant is evicted, the landlord must hold on to any personal items left in the unit for 72 hours.
Human Rights Code The RTA is subject to the protections under the Code. The Code also guarantees that every tenant is free from from harassment by the landlord, or agent of the landlord, or by an occupant of the same building because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, marital status, family status, sex, disability or the receipt of public assistance. Despite the protections offered by the Code, landlords can screen prospective tenants by requesting credit references, rental history information and income information. Landlords must accommodate up to the degree of undue hardship.
City of Mississauga Compliance and Licensing Enforcement The Office consists of 20 staff persons. Enforce the City by-laws regarding issues of land use, property maintenance and occupancy. The office can issue compliance orders and, if necessary, fine the party if the person refuses to comply. Tenant contacts the enforcement office and an officer visits the home. Usually takes anywhere between five to ten days. The tenant can obtain a copy of the compliance order if he/she asks for a copy, one will not be provided to the tenant automatically. Most basement apartments are illegal in Mississauga. They are only legal if the owner can prove that it was used as a basement apartment prior to November 1995. Upon discovery of an illegal basement apartment, the by-law office will require the owner to remove the tenant or provide proof that the basement apartment is legal. The owner is usually given 30 days to comply with this order.
Compliance and Licensing Enforcement Contd The Noise By-law carries with it a maximum fine of $5,000 if a person is found to have caused unusual noise or disturb others. The Adequate Heat by-law stipulates that a dwelling place must be at least 20 degrees Celsius between the 15th of September of each year, and the 1st day of June of the following year. -after receiving a complaint, the by-law office will visit the home and measure the temperature. -there is no by-law stipulating the maximum temperature of a dwelling unit. -The maximum fine for non-compliance with the Adequate Heat By-law is $5,000. The Property Standards by-law prescribes the standards of maintenance and occupancy which apply to all buildings in Mississauga. -Examples include, structures are required to be structurally sound and all exterior walls, roofs and foundations are required to be free of water leaks and painted or otherwise treated or waterproofed; all dwelling units must be equipped with a refrigerator, stove, hot and cold running water and proper bathroom facilities; if the owner fails to comply with a Property Standards Order, City staff can make the necessary repairs and the costs would be applied to the tax rolls for the subject property. The maximum fine for failing to comply with a Property Standards Order is $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation.
Investigations and Enforcement Unit This is a provincial office under the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Its role is to enforce the provisions of the RTA and enforce maintenance standards where there is no maintenance standard by-law in the community. Will contact landlords to ensure that they comply with the Residential Tenancies Act. Where compliance with the Act cannot be achieved, the Unit may initiate formal investigations leading to prosecutions of alleged offenders in the Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Offences Court).
Landlord and Tenant Board Located on the 5 th floor at 3 Robert Speck Parkway in Mississauga, the Board adjudicates disputes between tenants and landlords for breaches under the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants can file an application to the Board for a hearing to have their concerns addressed. If a tenant is unrepresented at the time of their hearing then they can seek assistance from Tenant Duty Counsel whose office is on the same floor as the Board.
Tenant Applications at the Board Applications must be filed with the Board within one year after the alleged conduct occurred. The application fee for filing most Tenant applications is $45. However, Tenants Rights applications are free. If successful, the tenant could have this fee reimbursed. The Boards monetary limit is $10,000.00. The Board rarely ever grants an award this high.
Available Remedies at the Board The Boards remedies include: -an order demanding that the landlord stop a certain conduct or demand that the landlord take action (eg. Make repairs); -authorize the tenant to conduct the repairs or replacements and order the landlord to pay the costs to the tenant. -Termination of tenancy; -Moving expenses; -Abatement of Rent; -Aggravated damages to compensate for mental distress and other non pecuniary damages; and -Administrative Fines. If an order is made requiring the landlord to undertake repairs of a unit, then the landlord cannot increase the rent to an existing or prospective tenant for that unit until the repairs are completed.
T1: Tenant Application for a Rebate This application is used to claim an illegal charge or illegal rent collected by the landlord, the return of a deposit, interest owed on last months rent, unpaid compensation for the sale of the tenants personal property, unpaid compensation for the conversion, repair, or demolition of a unit. The application is also used where the landlord failed to notify a prospective tenant that there was an existing maintenance order issued by the Board for that unit. monetary compensation is the only remedy available using this application.
T2: Application about Tenants Rights Application used where a landlord enters into a unit illegally, substantially interferes with the tenants reasonable enjoyment of the premises, or withholds or interferes with a vital service. The application can also be used where the landlord enters a unit illegally, changes the locks without providing keys to the tenant, or fails to give the tenant 72 hours to retrieve their personal items after eviction. Remedies include: -Money: rent abatement, administrative fine, compensation to repair or replace items, compensation for the increased rent that the tenant had to pay elsewhere, moving expenses, the return of personal property; -Action: ceasing alleged activity, tenant moving back into unit; -Termination of tenancy; and -any other remedies that are just such as aggravated damages.
T3: Tenant Application for a Rent Reduction Application where the landlord has reduced or discontinued a service and where the municipal taxes on a property has decreased the tenant can claim compensation in their rent. The only remedy here is money so if the tenant wants an order for the landlord to reconnect the gas to the home then filing a T2 would be appropriate.
T4: Landlord did not comply with an Agreement to Increase the Rent Above the Guidelines A landlord and a tenant can agree to an increase in rent above the guideline in exchange for a particular service such as a parking space. This application is used if that service has not been provided so that the tenant can receive a rebate of any rent that was above the rent increase guideline.
T5: Landlord Gave a Notice of Termination in Bad Faith There are specific notice periods to provide a tenant with notices of termination in situations where the landlord or purchaser of the building require their unit for their personal use or if the landlord wishes to convert, demolish or renovate the unit. In these cases an affidavit is required by the landlord or purchaser. This application is available to tenants when the landlord or purchaser filed their notice of termination in bad faith. Remedies include an award for rent abatement, a fine, compensation for the increased rent that the tenant has to pay an moving expenses, and any other remedies that are appropriate.
T6: Tenant Application About Maintenance Application where the landlord has breached their maintenance obligation under the Act or under a health, maintenance, safety, or housing standard. Remedies include monetary compensation for rent abatement, repair, or replacement costs. The landlord could also be ordered to pay for the costs incurred by the tenant to make the repairs, an order for the tenant or the landlord to conduct the necessary repairs, an order to prevent the landlord from increasing the rent until the work is completed, and an order terminating the tenancy.
Preparing Your Evidence Go to the property tax office and find out the identity of the owner of the property. Important correspondence with the landlord should be in writing. If you are conversing with the landlord through email, you should bcc yourself so that the email is date stamped. Take pictures and/or video. Prove the date in which the evidence was taken. Eg: by taking a picture of CP24 in the background or taking a picture of that days newspaper on the foreground. Take detailed notes of events and statements. Talk to your neighbours and see if they are having similar problems. Obtain written proof of events wherever possible such as by-law compliance orders, invoices, receipts or hospital records. You can never have enough evidence!
Conflict Resolution 1. Mediate with the landlord personally; 2. Seek an advocate (eg. family, friend, etc.) to speak to the landlord; 3. Call MMAHs Investigations and Enforcement Unit or the Municipal By-Law Enforcement Office; 4. If your matter is still not resolved then contact the clinic.
Energy Efficiency Assistance Program for Homes Pilot program that offered to retrofit a home with a goal to significantly reduce energy use and lower electricity bills. Program was available to low income individuals who live in electrically heated single, semi detached and row homes and pay for their own electricity. The pilot program was available to Mississauga residents last winter. Potential to be expanded to be available province wide this winter www.gca.ca
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers financial assistance to low-income homeowners to repair their homes. The program is aimed at people who live in substandard dwellings and cannot afford repairs necessary to make their homes safer and healthier. If the home requires major repairs, you may be eligible for RRAP assistance to bring it up to minimum health and safety standards to extend its useful life. Program also offers financial assistance to homeowners and landlords to undertake accessibility work to modify dwellings occupied or intended for occupancy by low-income persons with disabilities. Properties must meet minimum health and safety standards. Applications are available by contacting the City of Mississauga, Compliance and Licensing Office at 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, ON L5B 3C1 or by Telephone: 905-896-5655
Important contact numbers Mississauga Community Legal Services (905-896-2050) Landlord and Tenant Board (416-645-8080) Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Investigations and Enforcement Unit (416-585-7214) Mississauga Compliance and Licensing Enforcement (905-896-5655) Mississauga Fire and Prevention Division (905-896-5908) City of Brampton Enforcement and By-Law Services Division (905-458-3424) Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (416-314-8419)