Sask. landlords pleased after eviction rules changed

CBC News June 3, 2009 - Changes to the renting rules that went into effect this week will allow landlords to withhold damage deposits longer and speed up the eviction process — changes some renters are worried about.

The security deposit provision is a change from the current rule where the landlord typically has a week to return the money or file notice that there's a dispute. Under amendments to the Residential Tenanices Act that went into effect June 1, landlords now have 120 days.

The rules on evictions have also been changed in a way that could speed up the process for landlords.

Until now, people who wanted to appeal an eviction could go straight to the provincial government and bypass the landlord. Now, both sides are required to present their case to the office of residential tenancies (formerly known as the rentalsman).

The government says it's streamlining the rules and is trying to find a better balance between the rights and responsibility of landlords and those of tenants.

'It creates undue stress and hardship'

But Marge Friesen, who works with low-income tenants at Regina's Welfare Rights Centre, sees the changes differently.

"It creates undue stress and hardship because the situation that they're in and how difficult it is to get them into rental property," she said. "If they're evicted for reasons that are warranted by the landlord's discretion they may be on the street. They may be homeless."

However, a group that represents landlords is pleased with the changes, saying they will encourage renters to be more responsible.

"I don't think that tenants should have anything to worry about if they treat their buildings and the landlord's property with respect," said Tom Hammond, who's president of the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association.  "The landlord is going to treat them with respect. I mean, it's a two-way street."

Some people who rent say they aren't sure how the new rules will work out in practice.

Don Henrickson, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment and has been renting for two years, is among those trying to get a handle on the amendments to the law.

"I'm not quite sure if its fair to tenants or not," Hendrickson said. "I would say that the tenants are probably getting the worst end of this deal."

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