Residential Tenancy Disputes
In Saskatchewan, residential tenancy disputes, as defined by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, (“the Act”) and it's regulations, are, often, dealt with through the Office of Residential Tenancies (“the Office”) and the procedure is governed through the Office of the Residential Tenancies Rules of Procedure (“the Rules of Procedure”). The Office is a quasi-judicial decision maker, similar to a court, that hears and decides cases under it's jurisdiction. Often, hearings will be held in a less formal setting and with less formal procedure than a court would, parties should still do their best to comply with any formalities. It is important that disputes brought before the Office fit within the confines of what the Act and regulations establish as falling within it's jurisdiction.
More about the Office of Residential Tenancies
When a party to a residential tenancy agreement does not comply with the Act, regulations, common law, standard tenancy agreement conditions, and/or other proper tenancy agreement terms, remedies for loss or damages may be attainable through the Office. It is important that any party who experiences loss or damages takes reasonable steps to mitigate, or lessen, the loss or damages. As a general rule, applications under the Act are expected to be commenced within 1 year after the date of the act or omission giving rise to the claim if the act or omission occurred on or after September 15, 2021, unless otherwise specified. If the act or omission happened before September 15, 2021 it must be commenced within 2 years, unless otherwise specified. The maximum monetary limit on an application at the Office is tied to the monetary limitation of claims under the Small Claims Act, which is $30,000 for a principal amount, as of this writing. Fixed term and periodic tenancies have different obligations. Some obligations are different for a landlord that is a member in good standing of a prescribed association, or for certain public housing authorities or housing programs.
Tenant Rights and Obligations
A tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the rental unit and its property, which generally includes allowing access to the tenant, and individuals permitted by them, to the rental unit. In most situations, a tenant is entitled to proper notice before a landlord can enter the unit. Generally, a tenant is entitled to a maintained residential property in a good state of repair and fit for habitation, including all services and facilities supplied by the landlord. A tenant is responsible for the ordinary cleanliness of the exterior of the rental unit and residential property as well as the reasonable health, cleanliness, and sanitary standards throughout the unit, and to repair any damage that is a result of their actions or neglect, or the actions or neglect of someone who they permitted on the residential property. General wear and tear is usually the responsibility of the landlord.
Terminating a tenancy
The Act governs how and when a tenancy can be terminated by both a landlord and a tenant, and when possession of a unit can be regained by a landlord. Usually, a notice is required to be provided in accordance with the proper timelines to end a tenancy. Some situations require a landlord to apply to the Office to terminate a tenancy, sometimes a tenant has to dispute the notice in a designated time otherwise the termination is deemed to be accepted. Unless a tenant has vacated or abandoned the unit, a landlord must apply to the Office for an order to regain possession of the unit and properly enforce the order. Improper termination of a tenancy or improperly retaking possession of a unit may open a person up to liabilities.
Any rent increase must be in accordance with the Act which outlines when rent can be increased and how notice must be given. Generally, under a fixed term tenancy a landlord can only increase rent if it was agreed to by both parties at the time that the fixed term tenancy was entered into. If the tenancy is a periodic tenancy, the landlord can generally only increase rent with 12 months notice and the increase's effective date must be at least 18 months from the commencement of the tenancy or at least 12 months from the previous rent increase, whichever is later. A landlord in good standing of a prescribed association has different timelines to adhere to. A landlord for a mobile home site has similar requirements to a non-mobile home site with differences for a landlord who is a member of a prescribed association. The law applies differently to tenancies where the increase is tied to a tenants income under a housing program.
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