Renting a Place to Live - General Information
What is the difference between a statute and a regulation?
Statutes and regulations are both laws. There is no difference in their effect. A regulation creates obligations and requirements which must be followed in the same way as if they were set out in a statute.
For example, the Residential Tenancies Act sets out the law with regard to the responsibilities and obligations of landlords and tenants. In addition, there are several regulations related to the Act which set out further obligations. The items set out in the regulations are law in the same way as the items set out in the Act.
Regulations give the law flexibility. When the Legislature or Parliament wants to pass a new law as a statute, there is a detailed procedure that has to be followed which can take a long time. A regulation can be passed a lot more quickly and this allows lawmakers to respond to situations quickly without having to amend a current statute or pass a new statute. Many statutes specifically state that there is a power to pass regulations under the terms of the statute.
An example of how a regulation gives the law flexibility is where a statute establishes monetary amounts or measurements, such as fines or limits that might change over time. Regulations will set out the specific details of the amounts. If the amount needs to change, the regulation can be updated relatively quickly.
What are bylaws?
Bylaws are laws made by the council of a municipality. A municipality in Alberta is a city, town, village, summer village, municipal district such as a county, or a specialized municipality incorporating an urban and a rural area such as Sherwood Park.
The Municipal Government Act gives councils the power to pass bylaws relating to certain areas such as
- the safety, health, and welfare of people and the protection of people and property;
- nuisances, including unsightly property;
- public utilities;
- transport and transportation systems.
Some of these bylaws will relate to rental properties. Larger municipalities will have more bylaws in place and the bylaws can often be viewed on the municipal website. If bylaws of a municipality are not available on a website, the City Clerks Office of the municipality will have full details of all current bylaws.
Are there penalties for breaking a bylaw?
Yes. Municipal councils are permitted to create offences for people who break bylaws. The punishment for the offences can be up to $10,000 in fines or imprisonment for up to one year. Other penalties can also be imposed, such as fees and charges.
Typical bylaws concern such matters as smoking, parking, animal control, licensing and zoning. Larger municipalities will have more bylaws in place and the bylaws can often be viewed on the municipal website. If bylaws of a municipality are not available on a website, the City Clerks Office of the municipality will have full details of all current bylaws.
How are bylaws enforced?
Municipalities enforce their bylaws through their own investigations and by acting upon complaints from the public. An offence that is contained within a bylaw is called a "quasi criminal offence" as it is not a criminal offence in the same category as assault or theft. It is an offence for which a person can be prosecuted in court and be fined or imprisoned.
A bylaw is only enforceable within the jurisdiction or area that the municipality covers.
Where can I find the bylaws applicable to my rental property?
To see if your municipality has bylaws available online, go to the Government of Alberta site for Municipal Affairs and search under Municipal Profiles. If the bylaws are not available online, the City Clerks Office of your municipality will be able to help you.
When reading a bylaw, pay careful attention to who is actually liable for punishment for breach of the bylaw.
Can landlords and tenants commit offences under the Residential Tenancies Act?
Yes. Both landlords and tenants can commit the offences of adding or changing locks without telling the other party or acting contrary to a court order made under the Act.
All other offences under the Act relate to actions by a landlord. There are many different offences. Some examples include
- asking for a security deposit that is more than one month?s rent;
- not paying interest on a security deposit;
- going into rented premises without giving a tenant notice in accordance with the Act; and
- not serving a Notice of Landlord at the beginning of the tenancy or updating it when information changes.
A person who commits an offence can be fined up to $10,000.
What is the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)?
The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) sets out rules about how private sector organizations manage personal information. The Act includes the activities of corporations and individuals carrying on a commercial business, both of which include the business of leasing out property.
How is PIPA enforced?
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta is responsible for monitoring and investigating matters related to the Act. The Office has the ability to investigate complaints, begin investigations, hold inquiries and issue binding orders to the business organization. Individuals can also contact the Office for advice.
What is "personal information"?
Section 1(k) of the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) indicates that "personal information" means "information about an identifiable individual". This would include information such as
- name, address, and phone number (if it is not available in a public directory);
- business address, telephone, and other contact information;
- age, weight, height, gender;
- place of birth, nationality, ethic origin;
- identification numbers;
- credit card numbers;
- financial status and history, including the amount of rent being paid;
- evaluations and comments related to an individual.
Where can I obtain more information about privacy laws?
More information can be obtained from our external resources.
Security (Damage) Deposits
Who sets the interest rate for security deposits and when must the interest be paid?
By an Order in Council passed on September 8, 2004, the Security Deposit Interest Rate Regulation includes a permanent formula setting the yearly interest rate payable on security deposits. The annual rate is 3% below the rate of interest that is in effect on November 1 of the previous year for cashable one-year guaranteed investment certificates held or offered by Alberta Treasury Branches Financial (ATB Financial).
A security interest calculator is available on the Service Alberta website.
The interest must be paid to a tenant at the end of each tenancy year, unless a landlord and tenant come to an agreement that the interest will be paid to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. The agreement must be in writing. Interest must still be compounded annually when paid at the end of the tenancy.
This page was last updated in October, 2011.