RESIDENTIAL TENANCY LAW
Dickie & Lyman, Lawyers, LLP, advises landlords about the law, and represents landlords in proceedings under the RTA.
Non-Payment of Rent
Rent Increases by Applications
Rent Increases by Agreement
Tax Driven Rent Reductions
Applications About Tax Driven Rent Reductions
Applications About Tax Increases
NON-PAYMENT OF RENT
When a tenant does not pay their rent, you as the landlord have rights against the tenant. You are best to act quickly, giving the official notices to the tenant. The RTA requires certain waiting periods after the official notices. Therefore, you will have to wait longer than you may want if you give the tenant time before giving them the official notices.
When you rent to a new tenant you are allowed to charge whatever rent the tenant is willing to pay. You should make sure that you get a proper rent, because once you have set the first rent you are generally limited in the rent increases you can take.
There are special circumstances, which are explained below, in which you can raise the rent more than the annual rent increase GUIDELINE. However, you are generally limited to the guideline. For rent increases in 2017 the guideline is 1.5%. For rent increases that take effect in the year 2018 the guideline is 1.8%.
If you are renting and expect the rental market to rise, you may want to use DISCOUNTS to set a higher lawful rent than the effective rent that the tenant really has to pay. Depending on the discounts you use, there are complicated rules to determine the lawful rent on which you can base future rent increases. The RTA expands the types of discounts landlords can use. We can assist you to maximize your ability to raise your rents in the future.
When you want to, you can raise rents based on a number of limits and opportunities. You must leave at least 12 months between rent increases. You also have to give your tenant an up-to-date Notice of Rent Increase ("NORI") at least 90 days before the intended rent increase date. The current NORI is called a form N1. If you do not have the N1 form, YOU CAN PHONE OUR RECEPTIONIST, AND WE WILL FAX IT TO YOU AT NO CHARGE.
The N1 form has boxes to tick to indicate what justifies the rent increase. The most common way to justify a rent increase is that the increase is less than or equal to the GUIDELINE. The guideline is announced in August each year for the next year. For rent increases that take effect in 2018, the guidline is 1.8%.
As a landlord you can also sometimes justify a rent increase of more than the guideline. You can do this by two main ways: first, by applying for an above guideline rent increase; and second, by agreeing with the tenant to provide additional services or renovations.
RENT INCREASES BY APPLICATIONS
If you do major repairs or renovations in your building you can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order allowing you to raise the rents by more than the guideline. You can only claim work done within a certain period of time; therefore, if you do significant work, and the market will allow you to raise a number of your rents by more than guideline, you should investigate an application promptly. We can advise you how much you would be able to obtain above the guideline.
You can also apply for an order allowing you to raise the rent beyond the guideline if you have had extraordinary increases in taxes.
Owners of mobile home parks sometimes have to spend a great deal of money on water works or septic systems. There are special rules that may allow extra rent increases of 10 or 20 or 30% in one year to allow the cost of such work to be recovered.
RENT INCREASES BY AGREEMENT
If you do repairs or renovations in a rental unit you can make an agreement with the tenant for a rent increase above guideline. The extra rent increase is limited to 3% of the rent. There is a form that you must use that sets out the tenant's right to cancel the agreement by written notice within 5 days of the date of the agreement. If you want the form, YOU CAN PHONE OUR RECEPTIONIST AND WE WILL FAX IT TO YOU.
As a landlord, you are required to keep rental units in good repair, except for damage caused by the current tenant. If you fail to meet your repair obligations a tenant can apply for a reduction in the rent. There are various defenses which can be available depending on all the facts. Under the RTA, tenants can now seek orders prohibiting rent increases where there are serious maintenance issues.
Landlords sometimes want to move into a rental unit, or allow a family member to move into the rental unit. There are various restrictions on an owner's right to do that. As a landlord you must begin the process with a notice of termination on a form approved by the Board.
If a tenant does not move out in response to your notice of termination, you have to apply to the Board for an eviction order. The main issues would be whether your intention to move in is honest and true, and whether the eviction is in retaliation for something the tenant has done. Sometimes the tenant will claim that it is not fair that they should be forced to move out of "their home". The Board has a discretion to delay or refuse to grant the eviction.
TAX DRIVEN RENT REDUCTIONS
When the municipal property taxes decrease by more than 2.49% from one year to the next year there is an automatic rent reduction at December 31 of the second year. The next automatic rent reductions will take place on December 31, 2017.
The RTA reduces the lawful rent by 20% of the tax decrease for buildings with 7 or more units. For a building with a 10% tax decrease the automatic rent reduction would be 2% (10% times 20%). For buildings with 6 or fewer units, the rent is reduced by 15% of the tax decrease.
The rent reductions apply to every residential rental unit in every rental complex with a tax decrease of more than 2.49%, no matter what the size of the building.
Municipalities are required to send rent reduction notices to tenants of buildings of 7 units or more. Since those notices state the rent reduction as a percentage, you as a landlord should send your own notice to tell tenants what the change in the rent is in dollars.
Tenants who move in after December 31, 2017, will not qualify for any rent reduction that takes place at that date.
APPLICATIONS ABOUT TAX DRIVEN RENT REDUCTIONS
If the 2016 property taxes are less than 20% (or 15% where the building has 6 or fewer units) of a building’s annual rents, then you as the landlord can apply to the Tribunal to reduce the rent reduction, if such a reduction applies to your building. The application should be made as soon as possible, and must be made by March 31, 2018 for the December 31, 2017 rent reduction.
APPLICATIONS ABOUT TAX INCREASES
Instead of a tax decrease, the reassessment may bring an increase in property taxes, or the City of Ottawa may impose an increase in property taxes. If you experience an unusual increase in property taxes (ie. an increase of more than a regulated amount, usually 1 to 3%), you can apply to raise your rents more than the guideline.
We would be happy to advise you about your rights and obligations as a landlord, and about the steps you can take to improve the financial return from the property you own or manage.