Proposed Amendments to Clarify and Enhance Rental Rules Related to Air Conditioning

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Bill or Act:
Residential Tenancies Act, 2006
Summary of Decision:
Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, 2023 was passed by the Legislature and received Royal Assent on June 8, 2023.

Bill 97 amends Part IV of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 to add section 36.1, which permits tenants to install and use a window or portable air conditioner in a rental unit where the landlord does not supply air conditioning. Installation and use of a window or portable air conditioner is subject to specified exceptions and conditions.

Under the new changes, a landlord may charge a seasonal rent increase if they pay for electricity to the rental unit and the tenant installs an air conditioner, unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise. Rules are set out requiring rent decreases if a tenant seasonally stops using or removes the air conditioner unit. Certain provisions of the section are made to apply to previously installed window or portable air conditioners. Amendments also provide greater certainty that a landlord can inspect the rental unit to determine a tenant's compliance with the requirements for installation under the Act.

The Ministry sought feedback through the Regulatory Registry on these amendments which was mixed. Feedback included requests for setting across-the-board start and end dates for the seasonal rent increase that landlords can charge, limitations on landlord's liability due to unsafe air conditioning installation/use, and creation of incentives for energy efficient air conditioning units. Other respondents noted air conditioning in rental units should be deemed a vital service like heat, water, and electricity under the Act, that landlords should be responsible for safe installation and avoiding damage to a rental unit, and that a standard fee calculation should be created to avoid price gouging.

The legislative changes will come into force upon Proclamation. The government is considering feedback to inform any future regulations.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
The changes to the RTA would not increase costs for landlords as they will be permitted to charge a seasonal fee for the A/C usage if they pay for electricity to the rental unit.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
April 6, 2023
Summary of Proposal:
The government is seeking feedback on proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) which would clarify and enhance rules related to the installation of air conditioning (A/C) units and enhance tenant access.

Currently under the RTA, landlords and tenants can agree to the installation of A/C units in exchange for a seasonal rent increase. In practice, some landlords may prohibit the installation of an A/C unit in their tenancy agreement, however the RTA does not set out grounds for this prohibition.

The government is proposing changes that are intended to clarify and enhance the rules around tenant installation and use of A/C units.

Where the landlord does not provide A/C, the RTA would be amended to explicitly permit tenants to install window or portable A/C units, at the tenant's cost, if the following requirements are met:

1. The tenant gives written notice to the landlord of their intention to install and provides the landlord with information about the efficiency of the A/C and the tenant's anticipated usage.
2. The tenant must ensure the A/C units are installed safely and securely, not causing any damage to the rental unit or complex.
3. The installation must comply with applicable laws, including municipal bylaws, and any rules which may be prescribed under the RTA.

Under these proposed amendments, if the landlord pays for electricity, they can charge a seasonal fee to the tenant based on the actual cost of electricity to the landlord or a reasonable estimate based on the information provided by the tenant. Tenants would be responsible for covering any costs associated with the installation.

These amendments include the creation of a regulation-making authority to prescribe additional rules and circumstances, if needed.
Contact Address:
Royal Assent Date:
June 8, 2023