Legislation introduced to improve protections and remove barriers for tenants and landlords02 November 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – Legislation was introduced today to address concerns raised by both tenants and landlords during the rental review process. They include limiting rent increases to once every year and prohibiting rent increases within the first year of tenancy.
Additional amendments introduced include:
- Increasing the authority of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal by allowing it to review all rent increases, not only those that apply to long-term tenancies.
- Increasing the notice period for a rent increase to six months from three to give tenants more time to adapt.
- Giving tenants 30 days to apply to have a rent increase reviewed by the Residential Tenancies Tribunal instead of the current 15 days.
- Eliminating some unnecessary administrative steps for landlords to remove barriers to service.
“Under this legislation, the Residential Tenancies Tribunal would have the authority to review and deny unreasonable rent increases for most tenancies, instead of being limited to tenancies that are five years or longer,” said Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson. “This extra step will help ensure the tenant’s new rent amount is comparable to similar rental units in their respective regions.”
The rental review was carried out by a cross-departmental team in response to the concerns that rental rates within the province have unreasonably and unpredictably spiked during the pandemic. Twelve recommendations were made involving several government departments and crown corporations, four of which were addressed to Service New Brunswick.
To date, Service New Brunswick has completed the following steps:
- Access and assistance with tenancy matters has been improved through a revamped phone service.
- Legislation has been introduced to modernize the Residential Tenancies Act and accompanying procedures to better meet the changing needs of tenants and landlords.
- A re-design of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal website and processes has been undertaken. The new website will be launched in December. (www.snb.ca/irent)
- Work is ongoing to provide advocacy groups with the tools and information to help renters and vulnerable groups understand their rights such as through presentations and webinars.
“These are positive steps forward in addressing some of the complex issues related to renting,” said Wilson. “We are pleased that the recent changes to our telephone system show that in June 2021, 94 per cent of callers reached the team within their first call compared to 81 per cent in June 2020. These results show an increase in access to services for both tenants and landlords.”
“Tenants who have questions about a recent rent increase or need help understanding their rights can contact the Residential Tenancies Tribunal,” she said.
The Residential Tenancies Tribunal is an arms-length government body that attempts to resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants while upholding and enforcing the Residential Tenancies Act. Further information on the tribunal is available online.