Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property
The Rental of Residential Property Act creates a forum, outside of the traditional court system, for the adjudication of disputes between tenants and landlords. While the Commission itself is not responsible for the administration of the Act, it houses and funds the Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property (the Rental Office) and provides administrative support. Under the Act, the Commission is responsible to appoint the Director of Residential Rental Property to oversee the Rental Office and administer the Act and its Regulations.
The Rental Office is comprised of a director, two rental adjudication officers, and three intake officers. The Rental Office advises tenants and landlords on their rights and responsibilities with respect to rental agreements. The Act establishes the rights and responsibilities of the parties and outlines procedures for their enforcement. These include the handling of security deposits, termination of rental agreements, rent owing, disposition of abandoned personal property, and allowable rent increases, among other things.
The Director hears disputes between tenants and landlords and issues written decisions called Orders. Parties dissatisfied with an Order of the Director can appeal the decision to the Commission. Parties dissatisfied with an appeal decision of the Commission can appeal to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. Rental hearings before the Director are private, while appeals to the Commission and the Court are public. The Act defines the responsibilities of the Director as follows:
- Providing information to the public to promote understanding of rights and responsibilities under the Act.
- Advising landlords and tenants with respect to matters relating to rental agreements.
- Receiving and investigating allegations of violations of rental agreements, the Act, and its Regulations.
- Holding hearings, making decisions, and issuing Orders on matters relating to the rights of tenants and landlords.
- Entering and inspecting residential premises, after serving an inspection order, for the purpose of carrying out the powers or duties under the Act or Regulations.
With a current vacancy rate below one percent, the Rental Office receives a high volume of inquiries on a daily basis. In 2018, staff responded to 8,369 inquiries, an increase of 25% over the previous year. The number of inquiries received in 2019 has increased significantly over 2018.
An ongoing priority of the Rental Office is to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. Recent media interviews, a radio ad campaign, and public information sessions are all helping to better inform both groups of their rights and responsibilities.
The Rental Office also works in collaboration with several groups. The Director was involved in the development of the Housing Action Plan and delivered presentations to the Housing Council and the Housing Hub. The Rental Office collaborates with offices such as the Community Legal Information Association and the PEI Council of People with Disabilities to help them understand and navigate the legislation governing tenants and landlords so that they are better able to assist their stakeholders.
The Commission was asked in November 2018 by (then) Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture to provide input to the province on the current experiences and challenges faced in administering the Rental of Residential Property Act, and to make recommendations for any legislative amendments that would assist the Commission in executing its mandate under the Act. The Commission is continuing this work to provide input to government.
Allowable Rent Increases
Under the Rental of Residential Property Act, the Commission is responsible for setting annual allowable rent increases. To prepare its annual report, the Commission carries out a comprehensive financial analysis using statistical data compiled by the Department of Finance, and the Consumer Price Index. It considers minimum wage, average rents, the cost of electricity, heat, water, insurance, property taxes and other housing-related costs. The Commission seeks public input and considers submissions from tenants, landlords, and the general public. This report is available on the Commission’s website.