Residential Tenancy Act Amendments #204

Jul 01, 1993

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By Gerry Neely
B.A., LL.B.

By the time this is published amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act will have received third reading, but will only become effective by order-in-council. A review of the more interesting amendments follows.

Section 27 of the Act gives a landlord the right to terminate the tenancy where the number of persons permanently occupying the residential premises is unreasonable. instead of one month's notice, twenty-four month's notice must be given to the tenants where the increase in persons occupying the residential premises is the result of the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption.

A landlord who intends to demolish, convert or renovate residential premises must first obtain whatever permits or approvals are required by law before notice to end the tenancy agreement can be given.

Amendments have been made affecting the tenant' s security deposit. A landlord will now be required to return it with interest before the 15th day after the end of the tenancy agreement, except for any amount the tenant has agreed in writing to allow the landlord to retain as payment for unpaid rent or damages, or an amount the arbitrator has ordered the tenant to pay to the landlord. If there is no agreement with the tenant allowing for a deduction, the landlord must apply before the 15th day after the end of the tenancy agreement for an order by a court or arbitrator that the landlord is entitled to retain some or all of a security deposit.

If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch for an order directing the landlord to pay to the tenant the security deposit plus interest and any fee the tenant may have been required to pay to obtain the order. No landlord may make it a condition of entering into a tenancy agreement, or make it a term of a tenancy agreement, that the tenant shall agree in writing with the landlord concerning the amount the landlord may retain.

The intention of the government is to create new standard form tenancy agreements which will become a part of all tenancy agreements in the province, including those which are current. If the terms of an existing tenancy agreement or the agreement itself are inconsistent with the standard form tenancy agreement, the inconsistent terms are void or the standard form tenancy agreement is deemed to be the agreement the parties entered into. What all this means will have to await the order-in-council.

***

Considering the large number of condominiums around us and the potential for discord among owners who occupy private residences and share common property, few condominium disputes ever reach court. And when they do, the issues generally involve the regulations which are intended to make condominium living endurable for the majority.

The regulation challenged by two dog owners in an Ontario condominium case was a bylaw which allowed dogs as pets provided they did not weigh more than 25 pounds at maturity. The victims of this allegedly discriminatory regulation were Portia, a wheaten terrier and LuLu, an afghan hound. Both dogs weighed more than 25 pounds. It was conceded that since a mature wheaten weighs approximately 25 pounds, Portia was overweight.

There was no hard evidence to support the reasons for the 25 pound rule. It was suggested that bigger dogs make bigger messes, bigger dogs intimidate people more than small dogs, and big dogs cannot be carried in the front lobby as required. Because of the lack of evidence that large dogs were, anymore than small dogs, a threat to safety or that they unreasonably interfered with the use and enjoyment of property, the bylaw was declared invalid.

While the Ontario Condominium Act is more specific than the British Columbia Act in setting down guidelines for the rules and regulations strata corporations can make, the case is useful because it is a reminder that strata councils may not act arbitrarily in making rules and regulations.

The owners were aware of the regulations when they moved into the condominium. The judge was not happy with their successful defiance of the wishes of their neighbors and denied them the costs a winning plaintiff normally is entitled to receive.1

  1. York Condominium Corp., 24 R.P.R. (2d) 19.

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