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Tenant advocates, landlords see little benefit to New Brunswick’s new residential tenancy rules

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick makes changes to Residential Tenancies Act'
New Brunswick makes changes to Residential Tenancies Act
WATCH: Landlords in New Brunswick will have to give six months’ notice for most rent increases under new regulations that went into effect just before Christmas. But as Tim Roszell tells us, tenant advocates and landlords don’t see much benefit to these changes – Jan 6, 2022

Landlords in New Brunswick are required to give six months notice in advance of most rent increases under new regulations that went into effect just before Christmas.

But tenant advocates and landlords aren’t seeing the benefits.

Among the changes to the New Brunswick Residential Tenancies Act, implemented Dec. 17, 2021, rent increases are prohibited during the first 12 months of tenancy.

In most cases, landlords must also give six months’ notice of an increase in rent.

Jael Duarte, the tenant advocate for the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants’ Rights, said the changes don’t do anything to help people find housing they can afford.

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She said they just delay inevitable rent increases.

“Without rent control, the landlord can still raise the rent the amount they want if they respect these terms,” Duarte said. “There is not a cap for this increase so they always can increase.”

Gerry Webster, president of the Saint John Apartment Owners Association, agreed.

He said building materials, maintenance costs and property taxes are all going up and landlords need to raise rent to make up for the shortfall.

“The real answers are lying with the provincial government,” Webster said. “Rent subsidies, get rid of the double taxation. That alleviates a lot of pain for a lot of people and that all gets passed on to the tenant.”

Click to play video: 'Advocacy group says N.B. government out of step with priorities in housing crisis'
Advocacy group says N.B. government out of step with priorities in housing crisis

Apartment owners are taxed by the municipality and province on all non-owner-occupied residential buildings. New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that charges double property taxes.

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Webster said rent increases are coming in New Brunswick in 2022, even if most landlords have to wait until July to implement them. He said most New Brunswick tenants should expect an increase of about $50 per month.

Rents have skyrocketed in the province since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Duarte said she’s getting calls from seniors, single mothers and young people who aren’t sure how they will move forward.

“I would suggest to those people, what they should do is go to social services — those people for the most part are very helpful — and just say, ‘Look, I can’t make it. Can I get a rent supplement?'” Webster said.

“Social services, unless there’s some extenuating circumstances, will supplement the rent for them.”

Service New Brunswick provided an email statement to Global News defending the changes, including the longer notice period for rent increases.

“Having a longer notice period gives tenants more time to make financial adjustments, find alternate housing, submit a request for review of a rent increase, or negotiate alternative arrangements with the landlord,” said Service New Brunswick Director of Communications Jennifer Vienneau.

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Vienneau also noted tenants now have 30 days to apply for a review of a rent increase, up from the previous 15 days.

“Tenants are encouraged to seek assistance from the Residential Tenancies Tribunal when served a notice of rent increase to understand their rights and ensure the landlord is complying with regulations,” Vienneau said.

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