IF THE DYSFUNCTION WAS NOT SO HORRIBLY COSTLY TO LANDLORDS IT WOULD BE LAUGHABLE!
I filed a L2 Application with the LTB on August 3rd 2012, based on a Form N7. The N7 was issued to the tenant on August 3rd at approximately 9:00am, and the application was faxed to the LTB by approximately 11:00am. The N7 notice was based on the tenant impairing the safety of the landlord, or it's agent, in this case and is the "most serious of notices" to give a tenant. The burden of proof has to meet whatever threshold the LTB sets for the impaired safety. In this case, the tenant threatened to come and burn down my house with my family and I in it, and asserted he would make sure the fire department would not get there in time to save us. Within the hour the tenant was being taken away in handcuffs by Barrie Police.
The N7 notice is a 10 day notice of termination, with no opportunity to correct the problem. It is expected to receive the utmost urgency over all other applications, and I foolishly believed the Notice of Hearing would be faxed back to my office the same day with an expedited hearing date the following week. I did not receive any response from the LTB until I phoned them 7 days later. I was given excuses of "staff are on holidays",and "these things happen". The following day I received a message from the LTB staff that they were processing the application that day, and the earliest date for a hearing would be August 28th.
At the hearing on August 28th, Mr. Sean Henry, presided. Mr. Henry arrived without the proper equipment to record any of the hearings for that day. The LTB file that was sent for Mr. Henry was incomplete. I was told that the file did not have a copy of the certificate of service proving service of the N7 notice to the tenant. However, common sense dictates that the L2 application would not be accepted and processed without that proof of service. It was indeed faxed with the application, but not put into the hearing case file. The case file did not have a copy of the letter that was faxed to the LTB from the Trustee of the tenant a week prior to the hearing date either. Mr. Henry became upset when I suggested perhaps staff had left his copy in the photocopier, and expected and received an apology from me for the supposed slight none the less. Mr. Henry remarked that I should not be taking shots(insulting) the LTB.
The fact is it presents a very large target!
Having established the severity of the application, and accepting the evidence, Mr. Henry decided that he would still not terminate the tenancy without granting a further 11 days to the tenant for termination, from the date he writes the Order.
The landlord, in attendance with me that day, left the room in disbelief. She stated that she found Mr. Henry was a man with a huge ego that liked to hear himself talk, and projected himself as "a shark in a fish bowl".
But the target got bigger that day again!
While at the LTB hearing that day I received a telephone call from a staff member at the LTB office in Mississauga concerning an L4 Application that I had faxed in the previous week. An L4 application is used when a tenant fails to meet conditions of a Order or Mediated Agreement. In this case it was a failed mediated agreement.
The staff member stated that I had not completed the application sufficiently clear enough for a Member to write an ex-parte order. The math for payments was not clear enough to say whether the few payments the tenant made was actually for arrears of rent, or current monthly rent. She stated that she could understand the bottom line was the same in any event, but that a "Member does not have the time to figure that out when writing an Order". I was told I could fax in a amended application, or they would have to send it to a hearing again. Whereas the staff member at the Barrie LTB office that faxed the application down to Mississauga did not return my original application documents to me in the first place, I told her to send it back to a hearing.
Two hours later, upon returning to my office, I obtained my business mail for the day. In my mail was a copy of a Order sent from the LTB for the very application which I has just been told could not be written by a Member without it being amended. The Order was for termination of the tenancy(termination date of 04 September 2012), and for all rent arrears to the date of termination, and was written(issued) on August 24, 2012.
In the words of Dezi Arnez...."s'plain that to me Lucy!"
On September 04 another Order was received in the mail concerning the very same application. It was written by the same Member who wrote the Order issued on August 24, 2012. This Order changed the termination date to 08 September 2012, and changed the amount owing to reduce it from $2211.78, to $2200.00.
THE FAILED EXPERIMENT
The Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario has failed miserably in its mandate to provide the most expeditious means of adjudicating the issues put to it by applicants in Ontario. The systemic wide delays in due process present undue financial hardship, burdensome administrative procedures, and stress related illness to just about every landlord with the misfortune of finding itself in a position of requiring the service of the Board.
The hardest hit are the small independent landlords seeking to provide reasonable and affordable housing in Ontario. Time and again, these landlords are being made to be the social housing providers for the Government of Ontario by the actions of those Members of the Board whom take it upon themselves to impose unilateral decisions in respect to issues put forth by landlords seeking termination of tenancies for various causes.
The delay starts with the very filing of the application. This delay can be directly attributed to the decision of the Board to close numerous offices throughout Ontario, and to force landlords to now submit their applications to central region locations throughout Ontario. The Barrie office was one such location deemed expendable, and as a result applications that were normally processed at that office within hours now take periods of one week, or longer. An application was faxed to the Board at it's Mississauga location on 11 May 2010 by my office. On May 17th 2010, a call was received from that location indicating they were just now processing the application, and had a question concerning it's completion. "Expeditious" obviously has a different meaning in the realm of the Board's interpretation of such things.
An application filed with the former Ontario Court(General Division) was processed the very same day(while you waited), and a hearing date was routinely scheduled within 14 days of the filing date. The termination date on the Notice of Termination was the effective date of termination on the Order issued. Properly crafted draft Orders, presented at the hearing, ensured the process did not needlessly stall for landlords and escalate the arrears owing. The Sheriff could be scheduled, the same day as the hearing, upon receiving the signed draft Order from the presiding adjudicator/registrar. Expeditious, efficient, cost effective, and judicious.
Today the Board schedules hearings on average, from my perspective, about 30 days or more after the date the application is filed. It then schedules an exhoritant number of applications to be heard on the same day, thus creating a logjam on the hearing day, and then takes it upon itself to change the termination date to 11 days after the date they write the Order. I cannot recall, in the past 6 years or more, ever receiving an Order that was written on the same day as the actual hearing.
The Board has also failed in its mandate to educate landlords and tenants in Ontario. The extent of that education today is to provide a few information sheets at various goverment information centres, and to maintain a website accessible only to those persons with the financial and technical ability to access internet options. The true education comes to landlords when they attend hearings, and in essence have their feet held to the fire concerning their rights and obligations as landlords in Ontario. Only in this forum will you experience the "trial by ambush" mentality that exists in this dismal system.
Clearly then the biggest failure of the Landlord and Tenant Board is in its failure to launch a province wide media campaign aimed at educating both landlords and tenants.
It's time to dismantle this experiment, and put the system back into the capable hands of the Ontario courts.
THE SYSTEM TODAY.pdf
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MINISTER BARTOLUCCI OUT OF TOUCH WITH LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
(Queen’s Park) – Today in Question Period Municipal Affairs and Housing Critic, Joyce Savoline, questioned Minister Bartolucci as to why the McGuinty Liberals have done nothing to modernize the rent dispute process in Ontario. The Minister refused to answer the question, showing how out of touch he is with Ontario landlords and tenants.
“It typically takes 90 days for a dispute to be resolved, costing landlords about $5, 200,” says Savoline. “This puts a tremendous strain on the rental housing sector and there is a great risk that they will get out of the industry all together, creating uncertainty for 1.3 million rental households.”
The Minister claims that the McGuinty Liberals have “struck the balance that is good for landlords and good for tenants.” A recent study released by the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) shows otherwise. According to the report, the majority of tenants, 69 per cent, are in favour of making it easier to evict tenants who are not paying their rent, and 86 per cent of tenants favour a quicker eviction process for tenants causing damage.
“Where else would you find that goods and services are provided without payment, other than with landlords, who must allow tenants who don’t pay rent to stay,” says Savoline. “My concern is for small landlords who must find ways of making up lost costs from rent charged to all tenants, even those who do pay their rent.” “The current system is flawed and the Minister needs to start listening to what tenants and landlords are saying rather than avoid answering my questions in the Legislature.”
For more information contact:
Joyce Savoline, MPP
Tenants from Hell and the Ontario Ombudsman
In the summer of 2009 my husband and I had to endure a real life nightmare in dealing with a “tenant from hell.” At the time we were going through it, I was on a maternity leave with my infant son, so fortunately for me I was able to make many phone calls while we were dealing with the situation.
I believe the call I made to the Ombudsman’s office helped us in that the LTB was fully aware I had contacted the Ombudsman’s office and was very serious about rectifying our situation. Here’s how you can contact them: http://ontariolandlords.ca/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2480&sid=9750a784315bfccf5a831c92b1f680ef
We received a special hearing from the LTB which I have learned only happens in exceptional circumstances.
Now don’t get me wrong, we did not receive any special treatment by the Ombudsman’s office, but our situation was brought to light, because we had been treated extremely unfairly by the LTB. We had Legal Aid against us, we had the LTB against us, and we had an evil tenant using the power of the LTB and Legal Aid against us.
For those landlords who have had to deal with a bad tenant using the system to their advantage, you will know that a landlord’s property is held hostage while you deal with the eviction process. For those landlords who have not dealt with any of this, you have no idea how terribly unjust the system is until you experience it yourselves.
I was so incensed at the treatment we received at the hands of the LTB that I became a very active member of ontariolandlords.ca. I also wrote letters to MPPs, the Ministry of housing, Lilian Ma – Chair of the LTB, newspapers, and other politicians.
One letter I wrote was to the Ombudsman’s office asking for a full-fledged investigation of the LTB. It has not happened yet….this is where I need other landlords’ help. These types of investigations are few and far between, there have to be many, many complaints to warrant an investigation of this kind.
Landlords must call the ombudsman when they deal with a problem with the LTB. The Ombudsman’s office may not be able to do anything about your particular situation. But the complaints are recorded and they do add up. The Ombudsman’s office needs to know there is a very serious problem with the way the LTB operates. We need to point things out like: staff at the call centre giving incorrect information to landlords; yet giving information to tenants that can hurt landlords without even knowing the whole story. Or it could be reporting decisions by members of the LTB that defy logic and common sense ie. one Member stated “that the tenant shall not assault anyone in the building for a period of 12 months”.
Or it could be that the Chair of the LTB – Lilian Ma in sending her letters of response to you, saying little more than “I’m sorry that this happened to you”. Or it could be that a Vice-Chair be condescending or belittling to first time landlords because they have not been to the LTB before. Or it could be the intentional delay of evictions so that staff at the LTB and Tenant Duty Council keep their high paying jobs nice and steady.
I realize that it is not right that we landlords have to fight, fight, fight, just to get a morsel of fairness, but for some of us, even though we are trying to get out of the rental business, it is not something that happens overnight, and in the meantime we have other tenants to deal with, and may have to use the LTB another time.
So I ask all of you landlords out there , to please take the time to send in a complaint about the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board. We just might make some change if we have strength in numbers. For more information check out this link: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=128357537213845
Highlights of Our Meeting with the Ministry of Housing
On Thursday, February 17, 2011, Senior Members of the Ontario Landlords Association met with three Senior Members of Minister Bartolucci’s staff at the Ministry of Housing Offices, 777 Bay Street, Toronto. Also in attendance was the Honourable MPP Mike Colle, who really engaged with us and shared a number of troubling stories from his own constituents. MPP Colle organized the important ‘Bed Bug Summit’ for landlords and tenants last September. The Summit was instrumental in looking at the Bed Bug issue, with stakeholders from all sides of the Housing sector involved.
The Ontario Landlords Association was represented by the following members:
Mrs. Jane Schweitzer
Mr. Shane Curtis
Mr. Vince Shanahan
Ms. April “the Terminator” Stewart
Mr. Wayne “Agent 86″ Gendel
OLA Members presented a “Top Ten” style list of concerns on behalf of the SMALL business landlords of Ontario, who we succeded in differentiating in terms of the impact the RTA and LTB have on us as compared to the BIG corporate landlords. Simply put, the small landlords cannot afford, and often never recover from their losses at the hands of bad tenants and the process involved in trying to evict those tenants.
Our “Top Ten” official concerns were as follows:
1. The filing fee should be the same for landlords and tenants alike for an LTB hearing.
2. We want the return of damage deposits!
3. We want “no pets” in a lease to mean “no pets”! No opting out! Same with extra tenants moving in after lease is signed!
4. The new suite metering rules should be amended because it’s not currently possible to provide past tenant’s utility info!
5. The ORHC guidelines for tenant selection and accommodation are completely unfair!
6. Small landlords NEED the 9 regional LTB offices that closed in 2008 to re-open!
7. We are concerned about the extreme number of OW and ODSP tenants scamming us! And walking away!
8. If a tenant can take a LL to the LTB after the tenancy ends, give the LL the same opportunity!
9. There is no “Freedom of Information” at the LTB – We cannot search a prospective tenant’s history at the Board
10. Prior evictions are not admissible in current eviction proceedings!
Further, Termie shared the fact that in 2010 alone, rent arrears from OW tenants in her own cases accounted for $118,700 in rent that the taxpayers paid for (via the shelter allowance on their OW cheque), the landlord didn’t receive, and will never be able to recover. “That’s an adjudicator’s salary”! Termie was so alarmed by this figure that she announced that she will immediately embark on a study, with the help of the OLA, to canvass Ontario landlords to see how much THEY have lost at the hands of ODSP and OW tenants. This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks! If the OHRC wants to make us rent to those folks, then guarantee the bloody payment!
Vince Shanahan explained the old eviction system (via the Ontario courts) vs. the “Failed Experiment” called the Landlord and Tenant Board. Vince’s written materials were included in our package and certainly raised eyebrows… Vince pleaded urged the Ministry to embark on a comprehensive media campaign designed to educate landlords and tenants on not only their RIGHTS, but their responsibilities, too!
Janer spoke about her own nightmare ride through the LTB process when her OW tenant decided to take her for “the ride”, and also touched on the “extortion” that often takes place, thanks to Legal Aid’s duty counsel program…Janer is also currently dealing with another potential nightmare: her current home has been sold, she wishes to move into one of her units, but the tenant won’t move out, and if the LTB doesn’t deal with the matter in a timely fashion, Janer and her family could very well be homeless! And the LTB won’t care! Janer also discussed her interaction with the Investigation and Enforcement Unit when she turned to them for help and in a word, she found them “useless”!!
We also pointed out the insanity of the new suite metering rules, the OHRC guideline for landlords, and made it clear that the road is being paved for NO new investment in private residential housing in this Province. Because it does SUCK to be a landlord in Ontario! We also raised a very key question: Since the RTA was amended in 2006, no more default Orders were allowed, and every tenant was thereby entitled to a hearing… “How many new adjudicators were added to handle the increased case load at the LTB?”? The Ministry Staff could not answer, but promised to find out. This is very important because we doubt any extra were hired and the LTB is now over booking hearings on a regular basis. That equates to ridiculous periods of time to get tenants evicted, while the small landlord’s losses mount!
Shane Curtis, President of the Tilsonburg Chamber of Commerce, and new OLA Member, introduced the latest tool in our quest for change: an official policy submission to the government, via numerous Chambers of Commerce in Ontario, who represent a significant number of small business landlords among their core membership!
We celebrate the fact that the voices of the average small landlord were heard! The meeting was very useful as the Ministry has been educated on the real world issues of landlords. We look forward to our next meeting for further discussion of these very important issues.
Despite opposition from some tenant activists, unruly tenants, people with devious motives, people with self-serving interests, etc…..we will continue to work hard for you.
Our ultimate goal and Mission Statement is to make change for the better for all small business landlords in Ontario!