A Superior Court Justice in Ontario had strong words for the Provincial Government and the Landlord and Tenant Board after presiding over an outrageous case of tenant abuse.
“My recent experience sitting as a single judge of this Court to hear motions has convinced me that there is a growing practice by unscrupulous residential tenants to manipulate the law improperly, and often dishonestly, to enable them to remain in their rented premises for long periods of time without having to pay rent to their landlords. It is a practice that imposes an unfair hardship on landlords and reflects badly on the civil justice system in Ontario. It calls for the Government, the Landlord and Tenant Board and this Court to respond,” he begins.
“I have chosen this case, which is one of many similar cases that came before me during a five-day period hearing motions, as an example of the problem that I describe. I could easily have chosen many others,” he continues.
The case was brought before the judge by a professional tenant who managed to live in a $3,600 a month apartment for nine months without paying rent.
The tenant’s first act of deception was to provide a cheque to the landlord to pay the arrears owed after an eviction was filed. The case was dismissed by the Board, just before the landlord received notice that the cheque had been stopped.
A second eviction ended in a similar fashion. Due to scheduling delays, the case could not be heard until five weeks after the filing. The tenant agreed to pay the arrears subject to a consent order. The second cheque bounced. The eviction order was issued pursuant to the consent decree. However, the rules provide that the tenant can ask the Landlord and Tenant Board to void an eviction order without notice to the landlord in the event the tenant pays. Here, the tenant showed the Board the second cheque, and the order was voided without the landlord’s knowledge.
The landlord was then forced to go back to the Board to overturn that order, arguing that the tenant intentionally deceived the Board because he knew at the time he did not have sufficient funds to cover the cheque.
After the landlord finally obtained an eviction order, the tenant appealed to the Superior Court. At the time of the appeal, the tenant owed about $25,000 in unpaid rent, and remained in the property. The landlord had incurred costs of over $13,000 in legal fees, costs and returned cheque charges. The landlord told the justice that this was her first and only investment, and if she can’t obtain an eviction, she will be ruined financially.
The landlord discovered after the fact that the tenant had done the same thing to a previous landlord. There is reason to suspect that the tenant has insufficient assets to pay the money he owes the landlord.
One issue that the tenant raised on appeal was that the lease referenced his corporation. He attempted to use that fact to argue that the notices for the eviction were defective because the corporation was not named as a tenant. The judge disregarded this argument.
In fact, the judge found that the tenant “raised no bona fide questions of law”, and that the appeal was “totally devoid of merit, vexatious and an abuse of the process.”
The justice concludes the written opinion by calling upon the legislature and administrators to change the rules. “It is my hope that those in a position to amend the Rules of this Court will consider this judgment and see fit to restrict the right of appeal in residential landlord and tenant cases and, perhaps, require that leave to appeal be obtained before appeals can be brought.”
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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.