Rental law inquiries in P.E.I. up almost 10 times what they were in 2019, says CLI
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CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Tenancy law inquiries from both renters and homeowners have increased tenfold since 2019, officials with Community Legal Information say.
The Charlottetown-based legal aid organization has seen a significant increase in the number of people using its Renting PEI project, which provides legal information on rental rules for landlords and renters.
When SaltWire Network spoke to CLI – formerly CLIA – in January 2019, the organization had received 92 inquiries over the past fiscal year. Four years later, however, those numbers have grown to more than 800 customers in 2022.
“Just to break that down, this year about 150 landlords called us with inquiries, and about 550 renters called us with inquiries,” said Morgan Sandiford, Legal Navigator at Renting PEI
“We also have a couple of people who could be parents of a tenant or neighbors of a landlord who are looking for information so they can help or something. So there are about 120 of those people too.”
Sandiford said the reasons for the increase in inquiries could be as CLI has expanded its services and staff over the years, but added that this is also due to the current housing climate in PEI and the rules that govern the market. could be due.
“I also think the fact that our rental legislation was drafted in 1988 has something to say,” he said. “Back then, we had a completely different living environment, which is why our current rules don’t really fit people’s living conditions in many respects.”
Sandiford said CLI divides incoming rental inquiries into multiple categories ranging from evictions to rental questions to inquiries to help people understand the various rental application forms.
One of the more interesting statistics to come out over the past year is the number of women asking for legal information, Sandiford said. He said that during 2022 around 300 people who identified themselves as men called, while more than 500 people who identified themselves as women asked for legal advice.
“That’s 200 more women than men who contact us, which you wouldn’t expect given the tenant demographics.”
“We also speak to a lot of people who are young, female and racist who experience a great deal of discrimination in housing because the landlord they rent from just assumes they have no idea what the rules are with that they can get away with anything. This is a very real problem that we see on a daily basis.”
A frequent topic, which was also a highlight in 2018, was tenant inquiries about temporary leases and Airbnbs. Sandiford said while it didn’t make the top six list, it was still a real concern for many renters.
The top six requests for community legal information in 2022:
- application support
- Unlawful Evictions
- health and safety
- self-consumption clearances
He said many of the inquiries are about whether a property owner can legally evict a renter when their temporary lease expires to use the unit as an Airbnb. In most cases, Sandiford said, tenants don’t have to leave.
“In fact, the information we are giving them is that they are still covered by a valid lease, even if it has expired. Very rarely Airbnb properties are registered under the PEI’s Tourism Accommodation Act, which would allow them to evict a tenant to resume tourism services,” he said.
“Because a lot of Airbnb operators don’t register them, they don’t have that legal right, which creates a lot of tension because the renter still wants to live in the apartment and has every right to do so.”
While CLI is seeing a steady increase in rental callers, it’s not the only organization seeing an increase. In 2022, the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission Letting Bureau received 836 applications from landlords and tenants – almost double the number in 2018.
In an e-mail, an IRAC spokesman said if the order resulting from these applications were appealed after a hearing with the rental agency, the appeal would go to IRAC’s officers. During 2022, IRAC held 75 appeal hearings against rent.
While the numbers may paint a picture of constant turbulence between property owners and renters, Sandiford said many inquiries CLI are receiving are proactive rather than reactive, with people asking more questions than before.
“This general pressure that people are under to create housing is causing people to access the resources around them a lot more to keep the housing that they have,” he said.
Cody McEachern is a reporter at the SaltWire Network on Prince Edward Island. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CodyInHiFi.