In Toronto and across the GTA, in a time where commercially-controlled residential rental spaces are limited, the demand for private rentals has increased. Whether purchasing a condominium as an investment property or converting a basement into a separate dwelling, many homeowners now find themselves in the position of landlord. While this can be an excellent way to supplement one’s income and/or reduce your monthly mortgage payment, disputes can arise in the landlord/tenant relationship that sometimes require the assistance of a third party to reach a resolution. In Ontario, these disputes are heard before the Landlord and Tenant Board.
Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board Facing a Record Number of Complaints
According to a recent report from the Ontario Ombudsman, an independent office that hears and resolves complaints about provincial government bodies, the LTB has seen a drastic increase in complaints relating to delays over the past year. According to complainants, people have found themselves facing long waits for both hearings and decisions, due to a current backlog. Nearly 50% of the complaints filed in 2018-2019 with respect to the LTB were related to delays.
A delay in an LTB hearing can have a significant detrimental impact on either party. For example, if a landlord is seeking to enforce the payment of rent or the eviction of a problematic tenant, a delay will often mean that they are not receiving rent. This can drastically impact their own monthly income and their family’s budget. Further, if a tenant is causing damage to the property or otherwise poses a threat to the property owner, a delay only worsens the situation.
According to a recent finding of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), the average wait for an eviction hearing ranged from 30 days in Hamilton to almost three months in Toronto. These delays have primarily been attributed to a shortage of LTB adjudicators. The government has recently extended the contracts of some adjudicators and recruited others, but clearly this has not been sufficient to fully address the issue.
Delays Force a Windsor Landlord to go Without Rent on Two Apartments
A landlord of multiple units in Windsor recently complained to her local MPP about a delay in receiving an eviction order for a tenant who caused $15,000 in water damage after failing to turn off a faucet. The resulting damage affected two other units that currently require extensive repair, costing the landlord $2,500 per month in missed rent. While she was given verbal confirmation that she would receive an eviction notice for the tenant who caused the damage, she is still waiting on a sheriff’s notice, which is necessary to carry the order out.
Her MPP, Taras Natyshak, says that these complaints are becoming more common and blames the issue on recent cuts to tribunal budgets across the board, which have resulted in staff shortages.
Ontario’s Ombudsman to Conduct Investigation
The Ombudsman has committed to conducting a systemic investigation of the delays, in order to determine the reasons behind the delays. Specifically, the office will be looking at legislation, training of staff, funding, and available technology. The Special Ombudsman Response Team will take responsibility for the investigation and will then make suggestions as to solutions and best practices. Timing for the completion of the investigation and resulting findings has not yet been announced.
If you are a property owner facing issues with a problematic tenant, you should consider filing a request for an LTB hearing as soon as possible. Given the current backlog, you will most certainly face delays in the hearing and so it is best to start the process as soon as you are able to.
The real estate lawyers at GLG LLP in Toronto assist clients with a full range of real estate services, including purchases and sales, financing and litigation. If you are considering purchasing a property for investment purposes, we will advise on all aspects of your investment. The firm offers exceptional client service as well as a Bay St. experience with more reasonable rates. Call 416-272-7557 or complete the online form to arrange a consultation.