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Recent Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act

residential-tenancies-act-lawyer-st-catharinesThanks to new legislative amendments that came into effect earlier this month, people living in abusive situations can now more quickly and easily break their residential leases in Ontario. Victims of domestic or sexual abuse can now end their tenancy with 28 days’ notice. This amends previous legislation which required a tenant to stay until the end of a lease period or to give at least 60 days’ notice in the case of a month-to-month tenancy. Section 47.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17 provides that notice can be given at any time during the tenancy and that the tenant does not need to be living with the abuser to be eligible for the reduced notice period.

The law states that the 28 day notice period applies to tenants or children that have experienced violence or abuse as set out in the act, or if the tenant believes there is risk of harm if he or she continues to live in the rental unit. The tenant must provide the landlord with a signed ‘Tenant’s Notice to End my Tenancy Because of Fear of Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse’ N15 form and a signed Tenant’s Statement about Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse. The statement about violence and abuse does not have to describe the circumstances of the abuse, identify the abuser or the person’s relationship with the abuser or specify whether the abuse was against the tenant or the child. The landlord must keep all of the information confidential, however, the landlord may advertise the unit for rent, provided the advertisement does not identify the unit.

If the landlord breaches the confidentiality, a tenant can report him or her to the Ministry of Housing’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit and/or can file an application with the Landlord Tenant Board. The landlord may be liable to the tenant for damages and a fine up to $25,000.00. On the other hand, if there is reason to believe the tenant lied to get out of the lease, he or she may also be reported to the Ministry of Housing/Landlord Tenant Board and could also face a fine up to $25,000.00 and be liable for damages to the landlord.

Under the new provisions, tenants and children are deemed to have experienced violence or some other form of abuse if:  a restraining order has been made under section 810(3) of the Criminal Code, section 46 of the Family Law Act, or section 35 the Children’s Law Reform Act—or if the tenant alleges the alleged abuser committed any act that caused bodily harm, damage to property or made the tenant or the child fear for their safety. This can include anything from physical violence to events that cause the tenant or child to fear for their safety, including: contacting, communicating with, observing or recording the tenant or the child.

For more information regarding property laws, or if you are in need of a lawyer concerning a related matter, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our property, family, and/or civil law experts at Daniel & Partners LLP.

Blog post written by Matteson DeLuca, student-at-law.