Mass Evictions: Are The Recent Changes To The Laws Governing Residential Landlord And Tenant Matters
Some sections of Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, took immediate effect when it received Royal assent on July 21, 2020.
One such section pertains to mediation or other dispute resolution process. Section 194 (1) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, was repealed and replaced to provide that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) may attempt to settle through mediation or another dispute resolution process any matter that is the subject of an application or agreed upon by the parties. The contentious change here is that the LTB may now settle a matter that was never brought before it through an application but was simply an agreement between a landlord and a tenant. This essentially means that during the COVID-19 pandemic where there have been a significant number of payment arrangements between landlords and Tenants, the matter may be disposed of without a hearing where there is a breach of this agreement.
This change has been a most controversial issue for most tenants across Ontario. There have been reports of impending mass evictions and that a lot of tenants are in fear of losing their homes because due process has been taken away from the tenants. However, the bold truth is that due process will remain available to tenants despite this change. We do not yet have all the corresponding, Guidelines and Rules but we do know that its only where this agreement for repayment between the landlord and tenant, has been filed with and approved by the LTB will the Parties not have to go to the LTB for an eviction hearing if the tenant breaches the repayment agreement. It means then that this is not simply a new process which allows landlords to unilaterally evict tenants from their homes. The LTB still has a role to play before someone can be evicted from their home. The tenant will further have an opportunity to appear on an application should they disagree with the LTB’s order.
Both tenants and landlords will need to pay very close attention to all the recent legislative changes and seek help to grasp the correct understanding of these changes and how it affects them. Apart from the change mentioned above two other notable changes are: 1. Compensation for Tenants pertaining to “no fault” evictions – Landlords will now need to compensate tenants or provide another unit, where a purchaser requires the unit, the unit is being renovated or demolished, even where there are less than five units at the residential complex.
There are currently new N13 and N12 forms to correspond with the new changes; and 2. Compensation for Tenants pertaining to “bad faith” evictions – Where there has been a determination that a lease was terminated by a landlord in bad faith under the corresponding sections of the RTA, the LTB now has the power to make an order requiring the landlord to pay a specified sum to a former tenant as general compensation in an amount not exceeding the equivalent of 12 months of the last rent charged to the former tenant.
Some changes not yet in force pertain to matters such as applications by landlords for compensation for failure to pay utility costs, new requirements pertaining to the filing of affidavits by landlord for certain termination related applications and a requirement for the landlords to disclose any previous notices of termination for certain applications.
An examination of all the recent changes in the law does indeed indicate that the process for certain eviction related matters will become easier. What is clear is that there has been a hold on evictions for several months and these applications which have been placed on hold will now have to be dealt with by a tribunal that has suffered from backlog and inefficiency for months prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.