Earlier this year, Ombudsman Paul Dubé spotlighted long wait times for hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), averaging seven to eight months – sometimes stretching to two years.
However, recent updates from the LTB suggest a turnaround, with the Board claiming it now takes four to five months from application to hearing for L1 or L9 cases – the majority of its caseload.
The driving force behind this improvement, according to the LTB, is their "digital-first approach,” which was initially introduced as a pandemic response and solidified in November 2020. Under this approach, the LTB shifted to fully remote hearings unless otherwise requested.
The LTB has also made strategic hires to support backlog reduction. Since the Ombudsman’s report in May, the Board has brought on 39 new adjudicators and a part-time vice-chair. The LTB also recently rolled out free information sheets, YouTube tutorials, a dedicated technical support line, and a program providing phones or free top-up minutes for those with limited phone plans to help people navigate virtual hearings.
However, critics argue that the digital-first approach excludes those without easy Internet access, creating a barrier to participating in virtual hearings from home, and advocate for a return to in-person hearings. The closure of all eight LTB regional centres worsens the issue..
The LTB also acknowledges the continued strain on its resources, with an active case count "higher than ideal" and a monthly 25% increase in applications.
It’s important to recognise that many of these initiatives to alleviate wait times and backlog have only begun within the last two months. Only time will reveal their true impact on the accessibility and speed of justice in landlord-tenant disputes.
More LTB headlines
Ontario landlords contemplating rental unit conversions amid regulatory logjam – Canadian Mortgage Professional
The high cost of fighting a bad-faith eviction – The Globe and Mail