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Posts Tagged ‘Tenant Evictions’

By Sam Tekerai, Guest contributor

During the current health crisis of COVID-19, the Ontario Government suspended tenant eviction notices that had already been filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Although that action was commendable, the government was already in the process of amending the existing Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, via its Bill 184 that was tabled prior to COVID-19.  Although Bill 184 legislation has so many facets to amend the existing 2006 Act, greater focus should be on needed changes to the ‘existing mechanisms of evictions’.

Bill 184, titled “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community” was tabled by the Ontario Government prior to the advent of COVID-19. It has now passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and is working its way through the process to become an ‘Act’. Once it is passed it will implement varies amendments to the existing “2006 Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act”, which came into effect on January 31, 2007.  That Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants who rent residential properties. One is left to wonder if this nicely titled legislation “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community” could be a smokescreen for the real intent of Bill 184. These questions need to be addressed: Is the real intent to make it easier for the landlords to evict tenants, particularly those who are financially vulnerable going through economic hardship? Have these tenants reached some sort of agreement with the landlord to pay their ‘debt’ during the COVID-19 crisis?

Tenant advisory groups and lawyers have expressed concern that Bill 184 legislation proposed by the Ontario Government will have a major impact on tenants in general, but more so, on economically challenged tenants.  Tenant advocates are alarmed that after the current health crisis (COVID-19) has subsided there is a high probability that a huge number of tenants may be ‘evicted’.

The existing 2006 legislation has in place a mechanism for how landlords can evict tenants or to deal with evictions.  In short, first a landlord should give the tenant a “Notice of Termination” with the reason(s) to evict them.  That Notice should contain provisions that allows tenants to be given the opportunity and reasonable timeframe to resolve the problem. If tenants have a legitimate reason and don’t move out after receiving the notice, or if the landlord is not satisfied with the tenant’s resolution of the problem, then the landlord can ask the “Landlord & Tenant Board” to end the tenancy by filing an application. Of course, Landlords should have a good or an airtight justification to evict tenants.  Then, the board will decide if the tenancy will end after holding a Hearing.  If the board decides to make an “Order of Eviction” it will inform the tenants when they must leave the unit. If the tenants do not move out, then the landlord can file the “Board’s Order” with the court enforcement office and legally evict tenants.

Unfortunately, Bill 184 amendments appear to bypass the Landlord and Tenant Board, hence giving more power to landlords to evict tenants.  In particular, tenants who have the added burden of financial difficulty because of the current health crisis, and had reached some sort of financial arrangement in order to pay an outstanding rent amount (i.e. Debt), and had a signed agreement document with the landlords ‘without knowing the intricacy of the agreement’, they may now find themselves homeless if they fail to fulfill their obligation. Apparently under this agreement or because of this agreement reached between the landlord and tenant, the landlord can bypass the Landlord and Tenant Board and enforce eviction.

Tenants should read and understand any agreement before signing. In fact, they should obtain legal assistance (free legal assistance) to understand what impact it will have on them; especially those tenants who are the most vulnerable. Those tenants should give it the highest priority, especially in our big city of Toronto, where homelessness is rampant in the current erratic economic climate.

Although the amendment to Bill 184 is not yet law, tenants should be vigilant in understanding and protecting their “Rights”.  Tenants should/must fulfill their obligation under the lease agreement and be careful not to give the landlord a reason to be evicted.

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Refer to the links below for useful information:

FMTA Statement on Bill 184
https://www.torontotenants.org/fmta_statement_on_bill_184_2020?utm_campaign=bill_184&utm_medium=email&utm_source=fmta

The province says Bill 184 protects both landlords and tenants. Here’s why both sides hate it
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/landlord-and-tenant-advocates-continue-to-disagree-bill-184-1.5646147

CBC- 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

CBC – Changes to housing act a welcome change, Sudbury landlord group says
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ndp-landlords-changes-1.5636899

CBC -Hundreds protest Ontario bill they say gives landlords more ways to evict tenants
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/new-bill-evictions-homelessness-new-powers-landlords-ontario-government-1.5639979

Legal Aid Ontario
https://www.legalaid.on.ca/

Petition to Protect tenants from eviction
https://act.leadnow.ca/stop-bill-184/

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