The City of Hamilton recently voted unanimously to adopt Ontario’s first anti-renoviction bylaw. This anti-renoviction bylaw will require landlords who intend to “renovict” a tenant to obtain a license from the city (for $715) and provide proof from an engineer that the property must be vacated to complete renovations. The hope is that this new bylaw will discourage improper “renovictions” within the City and strengthen tenants’ rights. 

Renovictions are, understandably, a contentious topic among Ontarians, particularly given our hot housing market. In this blog post, we’ll lay out the facts surrounding renovictions to help you better understand what they are, what the appropriate process for a renoviction looks like, and how tenants can challenge renovictions. 

What is a Renoviction? 

A “renoviction” refers to a situation where a landlord evicts a tenant because they intend to perform renovations on the rental property or suite. To commence the renoviction process, landlords give the tenant notice in the form of an N13 notice. 

In many cases (and provided the landlord follows the appropriate process, which we’ll discuss below), renovictions are entirely appropriate and necessary to maintain the rental property. However, renovictions do not always happen in good faith. For example, it’s not uncommon to see landlords claiming that they intend to renovate a suite to evict a tenant and then relisting the rental without completing renovations to take advantage of the market. 

Renovictions are perfectly legal in Canada, as long as the landlord initiating the renoviction follows the appropriate procedures. At the same time, tenants do not need to take a renoviction at face value. If, for example, a tenant has evidence that a renoviction is not being done in good faith, they have a right to challenge the renoviction in Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board

Why is Hamilton Changing Its Bylaws? 

Hamilton’s anti-renoviction bylaw intends to combat Ontario’s affordable housing crisis while protecting tenants. Namely, this bylaw discourages “bad faith” renovictions by requiring landlords to pay a fine for renovations to prove that their planned renovations are occurring and require the property to be vacated. In other words, landlords cannot evict tenants under the guise of a renovation project, perhaps address a minor cosmetic issue in the name of “renovation,” and then relist a rental unit. 

But landlord obligations under Hamilton’s new bylaw don’t stop there. If tenants are required to vacate a property due to a renovation, the landlord must provide the tenant with alternate accommodations or financial compensation (amounting to the difference between the tenant’s rental payments and the rental payments on a similar property) for the duration of the renovation. 

The Renoviction Process in Ontario

The renoviction process is outlined in Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 17. Below, we’ll provide a bird’s eye view of a renoviction when all appropriate rules have been followed. 

Ending a Residential Tenancy, Generally 

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 17 outlines how landlords and tenants can end a tenancy appropriately. Sometimes, a landlord and tenant might mutually agree to end a tenancy. However, if a landlord wishes to end a tenancy, they can only do so for reasons specified in the Act. These reasons include improper activity on the part of the tenant (e.g., not paying rent or causing damage to the property) or “no-fault” reasons, such as the landlord needing to complete repairs or renovations to the rental property. 

Ending a Residential Tenancy Due to Renoviction

Landlords are entitled to give notice to a tenant and terminate a tenancy if they need the rental unit to, among other things, complete repairs or renovations. Note, however, that the repairs or renovations must be so extensive that they require a building permit and vacant possession of the rental unit. 

A landlord must provide notice of the renoviction at least 120 days before the intended termination date (or, if the tenant is on a fixed-term contract, the end of their term). After receiving notice of a renoviction, the tenant has a right to terminate their tenancy before the date specified in the notice (as long as they provide at least 10 days’ notice to the landlord).

Tenant’s Right of First Refusal for Renovictions

However, tenants also enjoy a right of first refusal in Ontario renovictions. Essentially, the landlord’s notice will inform the tenant that they may exercise the right of first refusal to occupy the rental unit once the repairs or renovations are complete. To do so, they must provide the landlord notice of their intention before they vacate the rental unit. 

Suppose the tenant does not exercise the right of first refusal and the repair or renovation was not ordered to be carried out under legislation (i.e., the landlord chose to carry out the repair or renovation). In that case, the tenant will be entitled to compensation of up to three months’ rent, depending on the length of the repairs or renovations. 

Challenging a Renoviction

If a larger dispute arises relating to a renoviction (for example, a tenant challenging the validity of a renoviction, or a tenant refusing to vacate after receiving notice of a renoviction), the dispute will be heard by the Landlord and Tenant Board, which resolves disputes between residential landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 17.

The Landlord and Tenant Board 

Both landlords and tenants can apply for a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing. Following the initial application, the Landlord and Tenant Board will work with the parties to determine the best method for addressing their dispute. This process might involve alternative dispute resolution processes like mediation and/or a hearing before a member of the Landlord and Tenant Board, who makes a decision based on the parties’ evidence and renders a final order. 

Final Thoughts on Renovictions

With Hamilton leading the way with Ontario’s first anti-renoviction bylaw, it seems likely that other communities will follow suit in the coming months. It’s, therefore, important for both landlords and tenants to familiarize themselves with the rules regarding renovictions to understand their respective rights when these scenarios arise. 

Experienced Ottawa Real Estate Lawyers Representing Clients Across Ontario

Tierney Stauffer LLP’s residential real estate lawyers have over 70 years of experience representing residential real estate clients. We represent clients in various transactions and can assist buyers and sellers across the province, whether relocating to a new city or purchasing a vacation home. 

We pride ourselves on our client-focused and personalized approach to residential real estate matters. To learn more, call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to speak with an experienced real estate lawyer


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