How Soon Until the Landlord Tenant Board Resumes Normal Services?
The Landlord Tenant Board Is Gradually Expanding Operations. When the Landlord Tenant Board Will Return to Normal Services Remains Unknown.
A Helpful Guide For What to Expect From the Landlord Tenant Board As Operations Restart
Following many months of restricted operations providing attention to only those matters constituting as serious health and safety risks as well as involving unlawful conduct, the Landlord Tenant Board is beginning work on a resumption of, somewhat, normal operations. Of course, where the Landlord Tenant Board was struggling with operational challenges prior to the Covid19 Crisis, it should be presumed that normal operations, meaning normal operations in the context of what would be expected of an efficient tribunal, may remain far off. Accordingly, it may be prudent to avoid presuming that all matters will now receive prompt attention and scheduling.
Gradually Expanding Services
As per the Landlord Tenant Board announcement dated July 30th, effective August 1st, the resumption of operations involves a gradual expansion of services; and accordingly, the details regarding a return to fully normal operations remain unknown. At present, the Landlord Tenant Board:
- Will begin to issue eviction orders that are pending from previously heard or reviewed matters;
- Will start issuing eviction orders as were agreed to within settlements arrangements;
- Will continue hearing urgent eviction matters where health and safety are at issue;
- Will start scheduling hearings for evictions of a non-urgent nature; and
- Will be conducting hearings for eviction of a non-urgent nature starting later in August.
Interestingly, the Landlord Tenant Board announcement and the references to gradually expanding services, mention only concerns relating to eviction. Of course, it is apparent that the majority of the matters delayed during the Covid Crisis related to issues involving eviction; however, for those with matters involving legal issues relating to issues other than eviction, it appears that such matters shall be further delayed while matters with eviction issues are addressed as a priority and regardless of when the matters were initiated.
Per the Landlord Tenant Board announcement, it is merely stated that resumed operations will involve the scheduling of evictions lacking the urgency criteria, meaning those evictions involving a concern other than health and safety, such as arrears of rent payment. Furthermore, whereas the Landlord Tenant Board in many locations as months behind with scheduled hearings prior to the Covid Crisis, due in part to an apparent shortage of adjudicators as widely reported (Toronto Star, CBC) and whereas the Ontario Ombudsman Office has commenced an investigation regarding Landlord Tenant Board delays, it will be interesting, and likely concerning, to see how many more months it will be for a hearing date as the scheduling of matters resumes.
On July 6 2020, the Chief Justice for the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) issued an Order to amend the previous Order issued on March 19 2020 which resulted in the suspension of residential evictions or what became referred to, and known as, publicly and within the legal profession, a moratorium on evictions. The amendment altered the original Order in such a way as to cease the suspension on evictions at the end of the calendar month in which the emergency declared by the government ends. Accordingly, whereas the declared emergency was terminated in July, per Bill 185 and the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, Chapter 17, at section 17, the amended Order of the Chief Justice was triggered and the suspension on evictions ended. More simply said, the moratorium on evictions was terminated at the end of July and therefore the eviction process, including evictions enforced by the Office of the Sheriff, may resume. Of course, after nearly five months of very limited operations, the Office of the Sheriff will be dealing with a significant backlog with requests to provide vacant possession of rental units to landlords.
Interestingly, in opposition to the lifting of the eviction moratorium, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario brought an urgent motion to the Superior Court seeking an Order to continue the moratorium on evictions. More specifically stated, the Motion brought by ACTO sought to set aside or Stay the amended Order of the Chief Justice, the result of which would be to continue the moratorium. The urgent Motion was heard by the Superior Court on July 31st and the Judge rendered a decision on August 2nd. The request to set aside or Stay the Order of the Chief Justice, and effectively continue the moratorium, was denied.
Financial Enforcement Hearings
At present, operations of the Small Claims Court are expected to resume in November. Such operations of the Small Claims Court involve financial enforcement hearings such as garnishment hearings, examination hearings, among others. Whereas monetary aspects of an Order of the Landlord Tenant Board must be enforced via the Small Claims Court, the continued closure of normal operations of the Small Claims Court results in delay in enforcing the monetary aspects of an Order from the Landlord Tenant Board.
Despite communications and rhetoric suggesting that the Landlord Tenant Board is resuming normal operations, both landlords and tenants should anticipate that the Landlord Tenant Board will be gradually resuming operations and will continue to prioritize urgent matters involving health and safety. Furthermore, whereas lengthy delays existed prior to the Covid Crisis, it is quite likely that those matters that fail to meet the urgency criteria will, unfortunately, remain subject to lengthy delay.