Provincial minister ‘guarantees’ landlords won’t circumvent rent cap
The provincial minister who regulates apartment rentals has publicly guaranteed that New Brunswick landlords won’t be able to find ways around a proposed new rent cap and legislative restrictions on so-called “renewals.”
Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson delivered on that seemingly ironclad commitment during Question Period.
Green Party leader David Coon asked Wilson if she would consider amendments to the rent cap bill before Parliament now, given there are reports of landlords trying to circumvent it.
“I can guarantee you, right here today, that the small percentage of owners who try to find loopholes around this system won’t be successful,” Wilson said.
Coon said a couple in his riding of Fredericton South had a proposed rent increase withdrawn by their landlord after the cap was announced – only to receive notice of another large increase that will come into effect. effective after the end of the cap on December 31.
He also said that the subjective and ill-defined ban on “renovitions” does not prevent landlords from evicting tenants claiming they need to carry out major renovations.
“Clearly, the rent cap bill will not achieve its goal of protecting tenants from unaffordable rent increases,” Coon said.
The bill will cap rents at 3.8% this year. It will apply retroactively to any rent increases in 2022, dating back to January 1, but the cap does not have the force of law until the bill is passed and receives Royal Assent on June 10. .
The bill prevents landlords from terminating leases except in four specific circumstances, including renovations “to the extent that vacant possession is necessary”.
Last month, CBC News revealed details of a video call between Moncton landlords in which they discussed ways to circumvent the legislation.
Property manager Tony LeBlanc said on the call that a landlord can ask the Residential Tenancies Tribunal to approve a longer time frame for a renovation and then complete a project in a week.
“The tenant is out and the landlord is irrelevant,” he said on the call.
Wilson told reporters the court would “do everything to make sure” the owners weren’t able to circumvent the law.
“It’s not gonna happen,” she said. “Any loopholes they might find, we’ll make sure to close them.”
She pointed out that any tenant who receives a rent increase or eviction notice that appears to be against the law must contact the court within 15 days.
But she was unable to say how the Bill could be enforceable now, given that it has yet to receive second and third reading by MPs and Royal Assent.
“We’ll work out the details as we debate the bill. You’ll see the details as it unfolds,” she said.
She said the province has not set a timeline for deciding whether to extend the cap beyond this year, to protect tenants who may soon receive uncapped rent increase notices on Jan. 1, 2023. .
“We will review it, we are keeping an eye on it, and we will act as needed on behalf of the tenants in the province of New Brunswick,” she said.
Coon said he was unhappy with Wilson’s warranty.
“I think she’s dreaming in Technicolor,” he said.
“Without serious amendments to the bill imposing rent caps, she can’t guarantee much. There are so many ways around this bill, as we’ve seen before. … Her guarantee is worthless. .”
Opposition Liberal MP Rob McKee agreed.
“It’s just a guarantee from a minister. Unless it’s something that’s written in legislation, anything the minister says is not law.”
But McKee said the Liberal opposition was unwilling to suspend the normal rules of debate to expedite the bill. He said a full debate was needed because of the loopholes in the legislation.