The Residential Tenancies Act or the RTA is a law that governs the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Alberta. Once you rent out your property to a tenant, you become a landlord and there are rules that you must follow. Under the RTA, both landlords and tenants have rights.
The RTA’s rental laws in Alberta include but are not limited to:
• Who must follow the act
• Periodic and fixed tenancies
• Obligations/covenants of landlords and tenants
• Remedies of landlords/tenants
• Security deposits, provincial court jurisdiction
• The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS)
In short — it’s your go-to rule book for landlord/tenant legislation in Alberta.
Each province in Canada has renting law, and as a landlord/property investor, the onus is on you to familiarize yourself with laws that govern your properties and your business. Claiming ignorance will not put you in a judge’s good books, and you could face significant fines for violating the rules.
Some professional tenants know the RTA inside out and can spot landlords who are unaware of landlord/tenant rights. Beware, if your tenants know the act and you don’t, you can easily become a victim of it.
In Alberta, Service Alberta, and municipal landlord-tenant associations such as ARLA and CRRA are well versed with the RTA. Service Alberta provides phone support to landlords or tenants who have questions about the act. Landlord/tenant organizations such as ARLA or CRRA can also answer questions for members about the act and provide examples or advice.
Where to get a copy of the RTA
Who does the RTA Apply to?
The RTA applies to tenants who rent:
· Basement suites
· A trailer in a trailer park (only applies to disputes between the owner of the mobile home, the owner’s agent, and the tenant who lives in the mobile home)
· A room/rooms in a boarding house
· A residential premises provided by an employer
Who does it not apply to?
• Correctional Institutions
• Supportive living accommodations
• A lodge accommodation
• An educational institution acting as landlord/student residence
• A hotel, motel, tourist camp
• Rooms in living quarters of the landlord
• A mobile home
• A business premises with dwelling unit attached
Test your knowledge — Scenario 1
Dale has been renting the spare room across from your master bedroom in your house. It’s the 1st of the month, and Dale announces he has decided not to pay rent this month. You tell him if he doesn’t pay, he must leave immediately. He says — “you can’t do that; I know my rights; I’m going to call the police.”
Is Dale’s room rental covered under the RTA?
You tell me.
Are you aware of the acts that your rental property must comply with?
The RTA isn’t the only act the governs rental housing. There are many other acts that protect health and limit the number of allowable people per premises. There are laws for municipal housing, laws that protect the tenant’s right to privacy, laws that govern condominiums. Laws for mobile home sites, and laws that protect a tenant’s human rights. Some of the Acts that affect rental housing including:
· The Public Health Act
· Public Health Act Housing Regulations
· Alberta Minimum Housing and Health Standards
· The Civil Enforcement Act
· The Municipal Bylaws
· Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)
According to the RTA, landlords have obligations defined in the act. The landlord must maintain a habitable premise and:
· Make the property available for rent on the agreed move-in date
· Provide a copy of the lease to the tenant within 21 days after the tenant has signed the lease
· Ensure the premises meets the minimum standards of Alberta’s Public Housing Act, Housing Regulation, and Minimum Housing and Health Standards which includes maintaining; electrical plumbing, heating, sanitary, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are maintained/running, supplying running water, hot water, and heat.
· Provide and keep up to date the “notice of landlord” to the tenant
· Complete move-in/move-out inspection reports and give copies to the tenant
· Conduct the move-in/move-out inspections one week before or after the tenant moves in or out
· Ensure the tenant has a functional key to the lock/s
· Deposit the security deposit in an interest-bearing Trust Account at a bank Treasury Branch, Credit Union, or trust corporation in Alberta within two days of receiving the deposit, and pay interest on the security deposit as directed in the RTA.
· If a new owner takes over the tenancy, notify the tenant of the owner’s name and address within 7 days, and provide the tenant with a statement of the tenant’s security deposit balance within a reasonable period of time
· Not disturb the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their property
Tenants also have responsibilities under the RTA which include:
· Paying rent when due
· Not interfering with the landlord/tenant’s rights in the premises
· Not performing illegal acts
· Not endangering another person or the landlord
· Not committing a substantial breach of the RTA
· Not permitting significant damage to the premises
· Maintaining the premises in reasonably clean condition
· Vacating the premises at the expiration of termination of tenancy
· If locks are changed providing a key to the landlord
Test your knowledge — Scenario 2
Sandra calls her landlord because she doesn’t have any hot water. Her landlord doesn’t respond. Two weeks later, Sandra still doesn’t have any hot water. Sandra calls the Public Health Act Housing Registration and complains. She then calls her landlord and tells him that he is in violation of The Public Health Act, and he has also violated the landlord’s covenants under the RTA.
Is Sandra right? Does she have recourse?
You tell me.
Test your knowledge — Scenario 3
Baljinder’s tenants contact him to let him know the bathroom fan isn’t working. Since he lives close by, he jumps in his car, buys another fan, and shows up at their property within an hour to replace it. Since they are at work, he lets himself in and replaces the fan.
Can Baljinder enter his rental property without the tenant’s permission or consent?
You tell me.
Many landlords don’t realize that the RTA exists until they start having problems, and I admit, I was one of those landlords. I bought a property and thought I’d just wing it and learn as I went along. In retrospect, trying to figure out the legislation when in crisis was not the best idea. It’s much better to know the legislation first so that you can either bypass issues or if/when they happen; you know what to do based on the rules, not your intuition.
Do you think you know the right answers to the three scenarios? Email me I’d love to hear your answer firstname.lastname@example.org
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