a major step forward according to CORPIQ. CORPIQ expects a significant decrease in the volume of pending cases, at what will become the Tribunal Administratif du Logement (Administrative Tribunal for housing) following the adoption of Bill 16 in the National Assembly.
This is a major step forward, according to CORPIQ, because the Act regarding the Régie du logement had not undergone such a major reform since its creation 40 years ago. According to the Régie du logement's latest annual report, 27,000 applications were awaiting a hearing as of March 31.
The new measures put in place should substantially reduce the voluntary and involuntary situations that delay the course of justice, CORPIQ hopes. Sad records were set in the past year with 11,873 postponements, 3,563 adjournments and 2,250 requests for retraction by tenants.
"This voluminous bill has required a lot of work on the part of the members of the Commission de l’aménagement du territoire. The minister Andrée Laforest showed leadership and openness to the amendments proposed by the opposition that helped to improve the bill" said Hans Brouillette, Director of Public Affairs at CORPIQ.
Among the many new provisions, CORPIQ very favourably welcomes the obligation to provide the court with a change of address, the possibility that the court impose a fine to a person who lodges abusive claims, the introduction of pre-hearing conferences and management conferences before the hearing, as well as the offer of free conciliation sessions.
In parallel with Law 16, thirteen additional administrative judges have been appointed by the government since this summer, bringing the number of judges to 54. This had not been seen since the 1980s.
"More judges and more powers to speed up the processing of cases will result in shorter court delays, which will be appreciated by both landlords and tenants. The Minister of Housing has come to restore our justice system to an effectiveness that has been eroding for years," said the CORPIQ spokesperson.
However, these new measures will have little or no impact on the approximately 40,000 cases of non-payment of rent introduced each year in court. Even if the Tribunal Administratif du Logement was able to reduce the administrative waiting time before the hearing by one or two weeks, a landlord has already lost a whole month's rent as soon as the process is started. Also, only 6% of landlords recover all the rents due through the court.
"We wanted the government to use Bill 16 to legalize the security deposit, but we understand the Minister's statements that her thinking is ongoing and that she is careful to consult all stakeholders before deciding how such a deposit would be structured," added Mr. Brouillette.
A historical reform for condominiums
In addition, CORPIQ is pleased with the adoption of several measures in Bill 16 concerning the divided co-ownership sector. Condo syndicates will have to keep a maintenance logbook of the building and obtain a study of the contingency fund establishing the amounts necessary for this fund to be sufficient to pay for major repairs and replacement of the common areas. The contribution of co-owners to the contingency fund will depend on this study.
"These measures will ensure financial equity between generations of co-owners, protection for buyers, and a way to protect buildings from deterioration in the long term. This should not be seen as an increase in the cost of condominiums. Rather, it will be a matter of healthier financial management", explained Hans Brouillette.