Newspaper Sues for Access to Tribunal Records

by Chris on February 27, 2017

The Toronto Star has filed a lawsuit against the Ontario provincial government seeking more transparency from legal tribunals, including the Landlord and Tenant Board.

The move comes after Star reporters say they’ve repeatedly been denied access to records in many tribunals, according to a report.

The secrecy of tribunal proceedings interferes with the newspaper agency’s ability to bring important information to its readers, the lawsuit claims.

Reporters claim they’ve been denied access to indexes of pending proceedings, reports of those proceedings, and in one instance, a tribunal officer hung up the phone on a reporter who was inquiring about pending matters. In another case, a reporter could only attend proceedings if consent was given a week in advance, and if the subject of the legal action consented.

The Star can be credited with exposing a number of high-profile cases involving nightmare tenants who have cheated multiple landlords out of thousands of dollars. Landlords in Ontario could benefit from the lawsuit if reporters gain access to otherwise secret records, or if more eviction records are made public.

Currently, tenants’ names are not reported in Landlord and Tenant Board decisions. There are no exceptions made for repeat offenders who are evicted multiple times. Because future landlords do not have access to these records, they can become the unwitting victims of these professional tenants.

The government claims that tribunals are necessary to take the burden off overworked courts. Landlord-tenant disputes are heard in such tribunals. However, the lawsuit argues that this efficiency was never designed to supplant freedom of information. The Star says the public has the right to know what is happening within the system. “We, all of us, own those records.”

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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