ONTARIO’S LANDLORD AND TENANT BOARD HAS COLLAPSED, LANDLORD SAYS
A backlog of cases at the province’s Landlord and Tenant Board is creating hardship for tens of thousands of Ontarians who are having to wait more than half a year to settle a dispute.
During the pandemic, the province paused evictions and hearings for months at a time, causing stoppages in the board’s work that many now see as the origins of the current delays.
The board says it strives to give a hearing within 25 days, but the latest update from the summer indicates the average wait is now eight months.
Both tenants, who face harassment or problems with the space they rent, and small landlords, who increasingly say they have tenants who take advantage of the delays at the board, have been affected.
Landlord Sian Tuang, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Myanmar in 2008, said the wait to settle this dispute has been “very stressful.”
“I never expected this,” Tuang said.
After working and learning building skills, the father of four bought a home in Smiths Falls, Ont., with plans to flip it himself. He then found tenants who could move in in December 2021 and help finish the basement, which was cheaper than other options.
In exchange, he told them they could live in the home for free for the first three months. They have neither finished the work nor paid Tuang any rent, he said, but they continue to live in the home and allegedly told him he can’t do anything to collect the money.
His lack of credit history left him with only high-interest options to pay for the mortgage, which is $2,600 per month, as he waits for a hearing to try to collect rent.
‘I have to support my own family’
The situation is much the same for federal public servant Ali Labano, who rented his home in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven to a family of four in July 2021.
Four months later, they said they couldn’t afford the monthly rent of $2,600, so he lowered the rate by $400.
Labano said the family then told him in March there were cockroaches and rats in the home and that they had decided not to pay the rent.
Behind $17,600 in rent and another $1,500 on the water bill, the family invited Labano to take the matter to the board in a tense confrontation outside the home.
“I’m suffering. I have to support my own family. I’m working day and night shifts to pay my bills, to pay this house’s bills,” he said.
Labano has joined the long list of small landlords seeking a resolution with the board, according to Tony Miller, who founded the Ottawa Small Landlord Association.
The financial consequences are tough on small landlords, he said, since they are powerless with backlogs at the board.
“To be frank, the board has collapsed,” Miller said.
Last week, Ottawa-Vanier Liberal MPP Lucille Collard tweeted about the overwhelmed process and said the board needs to be overhauled.
“Justice delayed is access denied,” Collard said, adding that delays are worsening the current housing crisis.
Collard pointed out that the delays negatively affect tenants and landlords, but politicians have been reluctant to weigh in on the matter because they’re worried they could seem unsympathetic to renters.
Story by: CBC News