UPDATE: RESPONSE FROM RENTAL HOUSING ENFORCEMENT UNIT
Thanks for forwarding the letter from MPP Andrew regarding air conditioning charges. I will respond directly on behalf of the Ministry as this issue relates to the mandate of the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU).
The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) allows landlords and tenants to agree upon an extra charge for providing an air-conditioner, either at the beginning of or during a tenancy. If the landlord and tenant have agreed that air-conditioning is included in the monthly rent, a new charge cannot be introduced.
If a charge for air-conditioning is agreed upon after the tenancy has begun, the RTA requires that the charge be reasonable or no more than the actual cost to the landlord. If the landlord is charging more than the actual cost of air conditioning to the landlord, a tenant can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for a rebate of money that the landlord owes. The LTB is the adjudicative tribunal with the authority to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, including disputes relating to the air conditioning charges. The LTB can be reached at 1-888-332-3234.
From your letter, it appears that some tenants in your riding are receiving notices relating to air conditioning charges even though they may have been using air conditioners for several years with no extra charges (i.e. it was included in the rent). Collecting these charges may be an offence under the RTA. You may wish to direct these tenants to the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) at (416) 585-7214. An RHEU Compliance/Customer Service Officer would listen to the complaint to determine if intervention is required, which may require communication with the landlord. Please note that for multi-tenanted buildings, from an administrative standpoint, it is best if RHEU receives one complaint per building from a tenant or a tenant rep. This would allow us to initiate our intervention process. Hope this helps,
Manager, Rental Housing Enforcement Unit
ADD YOUR NAME TO SHOW SUPPORT
The Rental Housing Enforcement Unit needs to act now to ensure that tenants are not being charged illegal fees for operating their air conditioners.
TO THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Whereas air conditioners are important for the health and safety of members of our community;
Whereas air conditioning fees are being charged by landlords without justification and in contravention to the RTA;
Whereas landlords charging these fees illegally rarely face any punishment for their actions;
Whereas tenants are often paying these fees that landlords are not entitled to out of fear;
We the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit to proactively engage with the community to determine where landlords are charging such fees, and take corrective action against any landlord found to be in violation of the Residential Tenancies Act.