Ontario’s government will invest $6.5m in the struggling Landlord and Tenant Board to cut decision times, and also plans to strengthen protections for tenants.
The cash injection will pay for an extra 40 adjudicators – more than doubling the current number – as well as another five back-office staff. According to Ontario’s Attorney General Doug Downey, this will help the LTB to “reduce its caseload, improve client service and resolve disputes faster”.
Property professionals will hope he’s right. For months, landlords have been calling on the provincial government to speed up unpaid rent cases at the LTB, citing eight-month waits for hearings and tens of thousands of dollars in back rent. Tenants have to wait even longer: claims over rights violations or lapsed maintenance can take on average almost a year from filing to decision.
But how much of an impact the new money will have remains uncertain. Last April, the provincial government committed $4.5m over three years to speed up service at the LTB, followed by another $1.4m in November. And still the delays persist. Some, including the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, blame the LTB backlog on the switch to remote hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario is also planning to limit landlords’ power to evict tenants to renovate the property or live in it themselves. Under the proposed rules, the landlord or a member of their family would have to move into the property by a set deadline after a personal use eviction.
To evict tenants for renovations, landlords will have to provide a report from a qualified person stating that the unit must be vacant for the work to go ahead. They would also have to keep the tenant updated on the progress of the work (in writing), and give them a 60-day grace period to move back in after it is completed – at the same rent.
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