Bill 16, tabled by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, is neither the reform of the Régie promised during the elections, nor that expected by the property owners of Quebec, deplores CORPIQ. The very title of this bill makes it clear: the government wishes for the Régie du logement to "improve its operating rules".
A dozen proposed measures in addition to an increase in the annual budget
First, the Régie will see a budget increase of almost $ 24 million over 5 years, part of which will be used to hire 9 commissioners and 30 employees. According to the minister, this will help to reduce by 5 to 2 months the pre-hearing processing time of various cases for a first hearing.
However, only the administrative delays will be impacted by these measures, which represent only a fraction of the delays between the filing of the application and the moment when the decision can be executed, recalls CORPIQ.
Superficial measures and one that would set back the rights of property owners
As for Bill 16, the proposed measures do not, unfortunately, specifically apply to non-payment of rent, while also having little impact on the majority of landlord-initiated cases;
- Re-naming of the Régie du logement for the Tribunal administratif du logement;
- The Tribunal will allow parties to be heard by videoconference or other applicable technological means if necessary (already exists);
- Conciliation between the parties will be favored in order to explore mutually satisfactory solutions (already in pilot project);
- The party notifying the request to the other party will be required to provide supporting documentation, or to provide a list of these documents indicating that they are available upon request. This must be done within 30 days of filing the claim with the Tribunal (except in rent fixing cases);
- The Tribunal may allow pre-hearing conferences to be held prior to the hearing to better organize it;
- In the same way, the Tribunal may organize a management conference, which will allow the judge to make enforceable decisions even before the hearing;
- The Tribunal will have the opportunity to order the notification of the application to persons whose rights or interests may be affected by the decision
- If the parties allow it, the Tribunal may render a decision based solely on the submitted file, therefore without a hearing;
- In the event of abusive or dilatory use by one of the parties, the Tribunal may order it to pay damages;
- If his age or state of health so requires, a person may be assisted by a trusted third party at the hearing;
- A party who has not made notice of his change of address will not be able to request a retraction if the notice of meeting was correctly sent to the last known address.
Rent fixing: the Régie no longer wants its rulings to be appealed
Another worrying measure is the modification to the right to request the review of a decision concerning the terms of the lease. It will now be necessary to prove that there was a substantive or procedural defect in the first ruling in order to be entitled to a new hearing, which was not the case before. For example, the recently dismissed landlord in his attempt to prohibit his tenant from smoking cannabis, would no longer be able to appeal his case with this new section of the law.
A real reform is necessary
CORPIQ will speak in committee on the bill No. 16 in order to defend the interests of its members and propose a real reform of the Régie du logement. Its interventions will be available on our website, as well as on our social networks.
- That the right to demand a security deposit be established, which would protect owners against bad payers and encourage the proper keeping of the rented dwelling. In addition, the deposit would lead the parties to negotiate and promote conciliation.
- That no request for retraction be accepted, in the case of a judgment in non-payment of rent including an eviction order, unless the tenant deposits his rents due and upcoming to the registry of the Régie du logement during the whole process of retraction. The following rents are also payable when due at the Régie du logement.
- That the court delivers its judgment immediately instead of waiting ten days for non-payment of rents. This would save valuable time for a property owner struggling with a bad payer.