Landlords become Homeless During the Pandemic.

The contraction of terms, “Homeless Landlord” appears to be what some say is a hard cold reality being faced for some small private landlords. Many small private landlords are experiencing serious financial hardship as a result of their tenants failing to pay rent and refusing to move during the pandemic, and one landlord is now reporting to the media that he is homeless!

In a recent CTV news article published on November 5, 2020, https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-landlords-say-some-tenants-using-pandemic-as-excuse-not-to-pay-rent-1.5176982, news reporter, Pat Foran, Consumer Alert Videojournalist, reports of one “homeless landlord’s” current situation where the Newmarket landlord, Brown, stated “I am homeless…” and “couch surfing” at a friend’s home and sleeping in his truck because the woman who is renting his house refuses to pay rent and leave.” He purports to be homeless while he waits for the Landlord & Tenant Board to expedite its back log of cases.

The LTB and government in response to the backlog of cases has hired more staff and adjudicators and has implemented processes and amended the law to expediate a landlord’s ability to obtain an eviction order without having to wait for a hearing . There is one catch though – the tenant must expressly agree to enter into a repayment plan and then the tenant must default in those terms of payment.

Moreover, the Landlord & Tenant Board, recently posted an “Important Notice” on their web site https://tribunalsontario.ca/ltb/contact which states that “Between October 19 and November 20, 2020, the LTB will shift staff and adjudicator resources to scheduling hearings.” Unfortunately, the Board advises that this shift in resources “will result in temporary customer service delays at the call centre of up to 45 minutes, and delays in processing new applications and responding to email inquiries.” and that “You may need to wait in excess of 45 minutes for a Call Centre Representative. When all lines are busy with other callers, you will get a busy signal. There will be delays in application processing for applications submitted as of September 2020.”

It is apparent that this shift in resources at the Landlord & Tenant Board is designed to deal with the back log of cases filed prior to and during the height of the pandemic, but for those applications submitted as of September 2020, they will be dealt with at a later date. How much later is still to be determined.

My professional advise to those landlords who are experiencing hardship during the pandemic, if you haven’t done so already, serve an N4 Notice on your tenant, file the L1 application, and while you are waiting for your hearing – make every effort (including concessions) to negotiate a payment plan with your tenant. If your tenant agrees to enter into a payment plan, do not wait, ask your tenants to sign the Board’s Payment Agreement form, and then file it at the Board right away. The Board will process the form and issue an order. (remember not to forget to check the box on page 2 of that form that will give you the ability to apply for an eviction order under section 78 of the RTA should the tenant default in terms of the payment agreement).

Then upon the tenant defaulting in terms of the agreement, you can then file an L4 Application at the Board and if your paperwork is in order, the Board will issue an eviction order, without the Board having to set it down for a hearing.

The Boards forms and instructions can be found at https://tribunalsontario.ca/ltb/forms/

You may also contact the writer of this blog, Landlord Paralegal Lisa Barder at (289) 788-4113 for a free 15 minute telephone consultation.

New Laws Enacted Under Bill 184, Do Give Landlords the Right to File for Eviction (Without a Hearing) if a Tenant Defaults in an “Agreement To Settle” and Also Covers Landlords New Obligations to “Make an Attempt to Negotiate Terms of Payment”. Defaulting Tenants Will Have the “Right to Be Heard” on Motion to the Board.

There is much controversy over the recently enacted provisions of Bill 184. Many Critics and Tenants Rights Groups argue that the new laws give an unfair advantage to landlords over tenants. In a recently published CBC Post “Advocates say new Ontario bill gives an unfair advantage to landlords over tenants” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-rental-tenant-bill-1.5636914, But the reality is that Tenants, who are faced with eviction, actually have a number of opportunities to exercise their “Right to Be Heard” before a Member of the Landlord and Tenant Board.

A Tenant’s first Opportunity will arise upon receipt of the Landlords L1 Application, Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing provides detailed information about the date, time, and location (or call-in number and password) of the hearing date and also sets out the parties’ legal rights and responsibilities. It also provides the parties with the Landlord and Tenant Board’s contact information should they have any questions, In essence, it provides tenants with all the information they need to properly navigate the process and respond to the landlord’s L1 Eviction Application.

SO WHAT IS ALL THE CONTROVERSY ABOUT? The controversy is regarding the legislature’s amendment to section 206 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the “Act”). This section of the Act is a provision that allows the parties (on consent) to enter into an Agreement to Settle on negotiated terms of repayment of arrears. In essence, the legislature has provided the parties with a legislated, amicable, method for resolving arrears without having to attend the LTB hearing, which considering the Board’s backlog of cases is a great way of expediting authorized repayment plans and in the event of default, evictions.

Prior to Bill 184s recent amendment to s. 206 of the RTA, the Landlord only had a right to request a reopening of the L1 application in the event of default by the tenant once the Board approved and ordered the Agreement to Settle and canceled the hearing. As a result, s. 206, Agreements to Settle were rarely used by landlords as this particular legislative process, over others, lacked the “teeth” of enforcement and in essence, did not move the matter forward in the government’s remedial eviction proceedings.

The legislature has now amended section 206 and thus given the Landlord the right to file for an “Exparte” Eviction Order by setting out the tenant’s default in terms of that Agreement to Settle in either a sworn Affidavit or Declaration under section 78 of the Act.

The Critics, on the face of their articles, are attempting to make it appear as if the legislature has provided new rights to landlords without providing similar rights to tenants. However, it is my opinion, that this is not the case. The amendment to section 206 of the Act, actually provides both landlords and tenants additional rights under the Act that they did not have prior to the amendment of the law, and those rights are found in section 78 of the Act, specifically, both parties are (essentially) prompted by the Act, to negotiate and resolve the matter themselves without a hearing. The landlord will have the right to file for an exparte order and the tenant is given the right to file a motion to set aside that eviction order.

In my opinion, this particular amendment actually balances out the rights of landlords and tenants, that being one of the main purposes of Act, and prevents delinquent tenants from taking advantage of the system and negotiating repayment plans in “bad faith”. After all, if the tenant knows that any default on repayment would result in an exparte eviction order, wouldn’t that in itself prevent a tenant from entering into an Agreement to Settle that they could not meet?

The Landlords Exparte Eviction (s. 78) Application (L4 Application) and Affidavit or Declaration still needs to be approved by a Member of the Board, and if the Member has any questions or if the Affidavit or Declaration lacks the necessary information to prove the tenant’s breach of the Agreement to Settle, the Member is mandated to set the matter down for a Hearing and the Board will send out Notices to all parties. However, if the paperwork and affidavit provide the information that the Member needs to issue the eviction order, the Board will mail out the Eviction Order to both the Landlord and the Tenant, at which time the Tenant may then exercise their “Rights to be Heard” by filing under section 78 of the Act, a Motion to set-aside an Exparte Order, where the tenant will have the right to attend a hearing and explain why they should not be evicted and the landlord will have the right to explain the breach and why then the tenant should not be given another opportunity to repay the debt.

Under the Rule of Law, all laws should be capable of enforcement, and as a result of the recent Bill 184 amendments to section 206 of the RTA, now landlords can rely on section 206 Agreement to Settle of being capable of enforcement, thus promoting more landlord’s to utilize this process, take the back-log out of the Board and have their matters resolved right away rather than wait for a hearing date months down the road.

Moreover, landlords entering into section 206 Agreements also cover the landlords’ obligation under the new amendment contained in section 83 of the Act. Specifically, that the landlord has attempted to negotiate an agreement with the tenant including terms of payment for the tenant’s arrears during the pandemic https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-184.

The Section 206 Agreement to Settle may be filed today!

If you would like additional information about the section 206 Agreement to Settle, or any LTB process, contact Landlord Paralegal Lisa Barder for a free half-hour consultation at (289) 788-4113.

What Will Stage 3 Mean for Landlords seeking Eviction?

On July 30, 2020, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) announced it is gradually expanding services in August. However, all in-person service counters remain closed until further notice.

Effective August 1, 2020, the LTB will begin to issue eviction orders that are pending, start to issue consent eviction orders which are based on landlord and tenants settling their dispute through an agreement, continue to hear urgent eviction matters related to health and safety that are scheduled,
Start to schedule hearings for non-urgent evictions, and conduct non-urgent eviction hearings starting in mid-August and into the fall.

If you are a Landlord experiencing difficulties with your tenant act now by serving the appropriate notices (N4, N5, N6, N7 ) and filing your application for eviction at the Landlord and Tenant Board (L1, L2, L3, L4)

Moreover, As a result of the recent Bill 184 amendments to section 206 of the RTA, now landlords can rely on section 206 Agreement to Settle of being capable of enforcement, thus promoting more landlord’s to utilize this process, take the back-log out of the Board and have their matters resolved right away rather than wait for a hearing date months down the road.

Also, landlords entering into section 206 Agreements also cover the landlords’ obligation under the new amendment contained in section 83 of the Act. Specifically, the onus of proving that the landlord has attempted to negotiate an agreement with the tenant including terms of payment for the tenant’s arrears during the pandemic https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-184.

If you would like additional information about the section 206 Agreement to Settle, and the Landlords’ new obligations under the Act to make an “attempt to negotiate an agreement” or any LTB process or procedure, contact Landlord Paralegal Lisa Barder for a free half-hour consultation at (289) 788-4113.