An official report into Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) has found that it is “fundamentally failing” landlords and tenants.
The Ontario Ombudsman found that the LTB now takes an average of seven to eight months to schedule hearings, and some tenants have had to wait up to two years. While the COVID-19 pandemic made things worse, the Ombudsman pointed out that the case backlog has been growing since 2018 and now sits at around 38,000 cases.
The report identified several causes behind the delays, including a shortage of adjudicators, a badly handled move to virtual hearings, a complex application process, and inefficient systems for tracking and prioritising cases.
The Ombudsman also called on the provincial government to change the way LTB adjudicators are hired and retained. Currently, adjudicators are appointed for a fixed term, but the report recommends that they should be allowed to extend their terms to finalize their outstanding cases. Additionally, the shortage of adjudicators tends to increase during election years as the provincial government stops hiring – another issue for politicians to fix, according to the report.
Clearing the backlog
The LTB’s parent organisation, Tribunals Ontario, and Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing have accepted the report’s findings, and added that many of the new report’s 61 recommendations are being addressed. In their statement, Tribunals Ontario said they were confident the backlog would be significantly cut this year.
Earlier this year, provincial politicians also promised to invest $6.5m in the LTB and hire 40 new adjudicators in a bid to cut waiting times.
But in the meantime, public anger is running high. Landlords from Small Ownership Landlords Ontario took to the streets in Mississauga late last month to protest against the ongoing delays, which they say leave them at the mercy of non-paying tenants for months on end. Landlords have also filed a class action lawsuit against the government of Ontario due to the backlog.
Meanwhile, until they have faster access to LTB hearings, tenants will continue to face the “harassment, unsafe living conditions and improper attempts to force them from their homes” noted in the report.
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