July 10, 2018
Landlord and Tenant Act Laws – What You Need to Know
The thing about landlord and tenant act laws is it’s not a ‘set and forget’ scenario. As a landlord or property manager, you need to keep on top of the latest news and updates. Across Canada there have been recent discussions about various laws and acts, particularly relating to privacy and cannabis. Let’s dig into what’s happening.
Landlords are required to abide by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). And, in recent years there has been a sharp increase in privacy complaints about nosy landlords. Here are some of the important responsibilities that landlords have under the law. Landlords need to:
- Obtain an individual’s consent when they collect, use or disclose that person’s personal information (except in limited, defined circumstances set out in the law.)
- Identify the reasons for collecting personal information before or at the time of collection. Ensure that these purposes are limited to what a reasonable person would consider appropriate under the circumstances.
- Provide individuals with access to the personal information that they hold about them and allow them to challenge its accuracy.
- Only use a tenant’s personal information for the purposes for which it was collected.
- Be responsible for ensuring the personal information is protected by appropriate safeguards.
And what qualifies as “personal information”?
It can be any factual or subjective information about an identifiable individual. This includes:
- name, date of birth, banking information and other financial records,
- identification numbers such as driver’s license number and SIN, and
- photographs and video recordings about an identifiable individual.
Here are some ways that you might not have realized that you might be breaking privacy laws:
Social Media: Informal checks – such as looking at a prospective tenant’s Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram account, or asking another landlord about the prospect – are a collection of personal information and, therefore, privacy laws apply.
Photos: The law says, “Taking photographs of an individual’s rental unit is a collection of personal information. The landlord must identify the purpose prior to, or at the time of, collection, and also obtain your consent. The landlord must also make a reasonable effort to ensure that you understand how the information will be used or disclosed.” So, if you were planning on taking photos of the tenant’s furnished apartment to rent it out when their lease has ended, you better get permission.
If you live in Quebec, Alberta or British Columbia, there is additional guidance to landlord-tenant laws at regarding privacy at the provincial level.
New Cannabis Laws
Recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada on October 17th. However, tenants in some provinces might not have the right to smoke or cultivate it in their homes. Here’s how it is unfolding in many provinces:
According to the New Brunswick government, landlords will be able to restrict smoking and cultivation of legalized cannabis in their residential properties. Concerning current leases, if there is not a “no smoking” clause, both smoking and cultivation will be legal after the 17th. Amendments can be made to existing leases, but they have to be agreed upon by both landlord and tenant.
Provincial law says landlords can “amend existing leases to put new rules in place about recreational cannabis smoking and cultivation.” Nova Scotia landlords will have to provide four months’ written notice to the tenant before April 30, 2019. The tenant can opt to end the lease.
Once cannabis becomes legal, landlords will have 90 days to send a notice of addition to ban tenants from consuming marijuana on the premises. This does not apply to medical cannabis. Even though it is considered one of the strictest acts in the country, a recent survey by Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) says that 85% of landlords are worried about the impact of legalization on managing rental properties.
Ontario landlords want harsher legislation. However as of this article, Ontario has not changed rental laws to address cannabis. A recent REMI article points out that it is “illegal to modify a rental lease before that lease comes due. As such, landlords will be unable to regulate cannabis consumption in their apartment buildings with existing tenants—only with those who apply for tenancy after legalization takes effect.”
In Saskatchewan landlords can “prohibit the possession, use and sale of cannabis in rental units; this extends to the growing and possession of cannabis plants.”
The Alberta government is working to educate landlords, renters and condo boards. The government states that “renters, condo-dwellers and those who live in multi-family dwellings may be restricted from growing cannabis in their homes based on rules established in rental agreements or condominium bylaws.”
The BC government’s Cannabis Control and Licensing Act has included amendments to various statutes including the “Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act to prohibit cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco and to prohibit the personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis. For new leases, the existing provisions of each Act that allow landlords and tenants to negotiate the terms of leases will apply.”
How Property Vista Helps
One of the best ways to stay up to date is to use a property management portal to share information amongst your team, keep track of leases and communicate with tenants. We have the solutions you need. To learn more, get started here.