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Cooling deemed key amenity for Ontario renters

Proposed legislation would allow landlords to pass through electricity costs

Cooling is positioned as a key amenity that Ontario renters should generally be able to enjoy in proposed amendments to the provincial Residential Tenancies Act. Legislation introduced as part of the recently tabled Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, would ensure that tenants are permitted to install window or portable air conditioners in most circumstances, and provide for landlords to pass through resulting extra costs in situations where electricity is incorporated into the rent rather than billed separately on measured consumption.

Arguably, the Ontario government’s stated mandate to reduce red tape is not apparent in the bill’s approach. Nor will it be straightforward to gauge electricity use and costs in suites that aren’t sub-metered.

“The way that section (of the legislation) is set up is untenable when it comes to administration. Any landlord who has electricity included in the rent will find implementing the section to be a nightmare,” submits Joe Hoffer, a partner practicing municipal and residential tenancies law with Cohen Highley LLP.

“You could foresee that it’s going to contribute to further queueing at the Landlord and Tenant Board to adjudicate disputes related to how the extra electricity costs are calculated,” muses Maureen Wilson, a city councillor in Hamilton and vice chair of council’s public health committee. …[Read More]