North

N.W.T. rental office to charge landlords, tenants to file complaints

The Northwest Territories government says recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act will give it more teeth when it comes to enforcing orders from the rental officer.

Landlords filed 10 times the number of applications as tenants last year in N.W.T.

The Northwest Territories government says recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act wll give it more teeth when it comes to enforcing orders from the rental officer.

"If a landlord is ordered, for instance, to build a temporary walkway to a premises or to fix a crack in a wall or fix water damage, those can be enforced by the Supreme Court," says Mark Aitken, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Justice.

Mark Aitken, assistant deputy minister with the N.W.T. Department of Justice, says recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act wll give it more teeth when it comes to enforcing orders from the rental officer. (CBC)

"And if the landlord were to refuse an order to do so, that could be contempt of court, which is a fairly severe sanction and very few people are willing to risk that."

There will also now be a fee to file an application with the rental officer. Tenants will pay $20, landlords, $100.

"They have deeper pockets than the average tenant," Aitken said of the landlords. 

"We did not want to have the fees to be a barrier to tenants who are seeking relief from the rental officer. And a fee of $100 for many tenants would have been much more a challenge than it is for the average landlord." 

Those living in public housing or those experiencing domestic abuse will still be able to file for free.

Over the past year, N.W.T. landlords filed 540 applications, more than 10 times the number of applications filed by tenants.

More than $3 million in compensation was ordered by the Northwest Territories Rental Office last year, with the average amount awarded around $7,000. Most of it was to landlords for rental arrears. 

The changes went into effect Aug. 31. 

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