December 05, 2017

Government Introduces Improvements to Rental Legislation

Saskatchewan has introduced amendments to rental legislation that address concerns about cannabis, misuse of the eviction process, and the disposal of abandoned goods.

“Through this legislation, government is ensuring that the balance between landlords’ and tenants’ rights is maintained,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.  “These amendments address concerns we’ve heard from landlords about issues such as the upcoming legalization of cannabis and abuses of the eviction process.”

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, 2017 takes into account the upcoming legalization of cannabis and gives landlords the right to impose rules prohibiting the possession, use, and sale of cannabis in the rental unit.  This extends to the growing and possession of cannabis plants.

The legislation also repeals provisions in The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 that require a tenant to deposit half a month’s rent with the Court of Queen’s Bench when appealing an eviction hearing decision made by the Office of Residential Tenancies.  This provision will be replaced with a requirement that the renter continue to pay rent to the landlord until the conclusion of an appeal.

This is in response to ongoing concerns about the exploitation of the appeal process by tenants.  While these cases are rare, the hardship they cause affected landlords is significant.  Additionally, landlords will now be able to dispose of abandoned goods if the value of the goods does not exceed $1,500.

Previously, landlords needed to obtain an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies to dispose of any abandoned goods.  Government expects the Act to come into force in spring 2018.

The Office of Residential Tenancies received 8,446 applications in 2016-17, of which 6,876 were made by landlords and 1,460 were made by tenants.  These applications involve disputes over security deposits, overdue or unpaid rent, damages to property, and abandoned personal property.