(COURTESY OF YOUR LIBERAL GOVERNMENT)
May 2011 – Evictions, Landlord and Tenant Board
This is a true story of a straight forward eviction matter, that has officially qualified for the “nightmare” status we assign to our most memorable cases.
This particular case is not yet closed, thanks to the process in Ontario that allows unscrupulous tenants to thumb their noses at their landlord, those who choose to protect the landlord, and the appointed decision makers at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
MG retained Landlord Legal in November, 2010 to assist in terminating a problematic tenancy in one of her two rental units (contained within one dwelling) in Toronto. The tenants on the main floor had developed a habit of paying rent late, on a persistent basis. These tenants were also not upholding their written agreement to pay their assigned portion of the monthly utility bills. The landlord was exhausted from the efforts required to stay on top of these issues. It was time to terminate the tenancy.
In the third week of November, the first “originating” notices were delivered to the tenants. The issues stated therein were not rectified, and on December 16, 2010, application was made to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a hearing to ask for termination of the tenancy for the stated grounds.
Hearing Number One: January 31, 2011.
The landlord flew in from her home in California to provide evidence at this hearing. Terminator stayed in Toronto the night before, at her own expense, to assure timely arrival at the hearing location on the scheduled date.
The hearing was set for 9:00am sign in on January 31, 2011. A full hour later, the tenant strolled in, and refused the opportunity to sit down with the landlord, her representative, or the mediator, to narrow down the issues and attempt to resolve things. With some persuading, the tenant finally agreed to the mediation process. A full hour later, it was clear that no fruit would be borne from these talks, and the parties returned to the hearing room.
The matter was called forward, and the tenant indicated he would like an adjournment. The reason: “They came with all these papers and stuff and I need a lawyer”. It was pointed out that duty counsel was “in the house”, but this tenant wanted HIS lawyer.
When questioned in this regard, the tenant provided the name of a lawyer he had “just consulted with” and ultimately, the adjudicator assented to this request and the matter was adjourned, indicating that we were likely not going to be reached anyway, as the docket was overbooked.
The landlord returned to California with no resolution, mounting issues now affecting her personal credit, and legal fees for the attendance. Terminator asked and was granted the request that the matter return “peremptory” on the tenants.
Hearing Number Two: March 28, 2011.
The second hearing was eventually scheduled for March 28, 2011. This time, the landlord requested to testify via telephone, and Terminator attended in person. This hearing was scheduled for a Monday. The Friday before, at approximately 4:00pm, a fax came in to Landlord Legal from an unknown paralegal firm requesting an adjournment on behalf of their new client, the tenant! We responded with a resounding “no way”, and headed to the hearing as scheduled.
At this hearing number two, the tenant did not show up at all. Instead, he sent his newly retained paralegal to request an adjournment because allegedly, he was out of town for work. The paralegal had nothing in his possession to confirm that this was true and besides, the matter was peremptory on his client!
The poor, misinformed paralegal did not know, because his client didn’t bother to inform him, that there was a previous hearing, and it was adjourned at his request so he could retain his chosen representative. AND it was peremptory on his client!
The adjudicator heard the appropriate argument from Terminator, and ultimately, the matter went ahead. After a great deal of evidence had been submitted and the landlord duly questioned, the application was granted and the tenancy terminated. On March 29, 2011 the Landlord and Tenant Board issued the Order, File Number TSL-11579-10, and the tenancy was deemed terminated on or before April 19, 2011, with the ability for “early filing” with the Sheriff’s office. This was the best result the adjudicator could have given, and the landlord was thrilled that it was finally over!
In the days before that directive matured, it became clear that these tenants were making no plans to leave anytime soon. Something was up, and the landlord had no choice but to wait. On April 9, 2011, the Order was registered with the Toronto Sheriff’s Enforcement Office at a cost of $324.00, plus process serving fees. The tenants were informed via mail from that office that they were commanded to vacate the premises by April 26, 2011.
On April 25, 2011, Landlord Legal received a call from the Landlord and Tenant Board to advise that the tenants had filed a Motion, and the matter was going back to the Board on May 9, 2011. This Motion does not cost the tenant a cent. This Motion will be baseless, as it does not change the fact that he chose not to inform his chosen representative, he chose not to attend the hearing, and he chose not to take the hearing process seriously at all. This Motion is for one purpose: buy more time in the home, and hold the landlord hostage even longer, and put her to more expense.
Hearing Number Three: May 9, 2011.
On May 9th, the tenant may or may not bother to show up. If he does, he stands little to no chance of changing the fact that his tenancy was terminated. The Board will assign a new adjudicator to review the file, and the Order issued on March 29, 2011, and to decide whether or not to grant a Review Hearing to this tenant. If the Review is granted, important tests will be applied to determine, on the spot, if the previous Member erred in law in her directive, or in how the hearing was conducted. If the landlord succeeds, the “Stay” will be lifted, we will have to await a new Order confirming the previous Order (this alone could take weeks), then we must file the new Order with the Sheriff’s office (no new filing fee), and await their enforcement process. Or, worst case scenario, they overturn the previous Order based on some “error of law” that seems next to impossible, under the circumstances.
It’s that easy. If you are a tenant in Ontario and your tenancy is terminated by the Board, file a Motion! It’s okay: the Board does not require any money, or any evidence. Fill out the form, hand it to the clerk, or just fax it if you prefer!
We are now into month SIX of a really straight forward type of eviction case. This landlord owns ONE rental property. The process is taking an enormous emotional and financial toll.
Don’t blame the Board, they are only doing their job, as directed by our government. The adjudicator(s) are also bound by the process. The problem, then, is the process itself. Housing Minister Bartolucci told Parliament just weeks ago that this process is working just fine!
Perhaps our Housing Minister should re-visit his statements. As someone who fights for small landlords daily, I can assure him that something is rotten in Ontario, and it’s the Residential Tenancies Act and the way the Landlord and Tenant Board is failing landlords, the affordable housing providers of Ontario.
Shame on us all, if we don’t lobby for change.
C. April Stewart, aka “the Terminator”