Bill 184, also known as the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which includes Ontario’s latest amendment to its eviction procedures, has become law. So far, the reaction has been mixed.
In a press statement, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing highlights the bill’s new protections for tenants.
However, tenants may be the most vocal critics of the new law, which requires landlords to offer tenants repayment plans to make up any unpaid rent during the pandemic as a condition for seeking to evict those non-paying tenants. If a tenant violates the repayment plan, the landlord may obtain an eviction order without a hearing.
Landlords and tenants are now encouraged to mediate any disputes regarding unpaid rent during the pandemic. The landlord may include a provision that, if a repayment plan is reached and the tenant subsequently defaults, the landlord may be able to proceed to eviction by consent without the need for a hearing. Still, the tenant has the right to appeal the eviction order. Landlords who come before the Landlord and Tenant Board to seek evictions over non-payment during the pandemic will be required to show what efforts they made to negotiate a payment plan.
Tenant advocates suggest that landlords now can unilaterally demand tenants sign outrageous repayment plans that tenants cannot afford, and if the tenant subsequently defaults, the Landlord and Tenant Board will fast-track the evictions. Some are going as far as advising tenants to ignore the repayment offers and refuse to negotiate with their landlords.
Landlords have expressed tepid support for the measure, which they say doesn’t really change anything. After all, you can’t negotiate a repayment plan with a tenant who is ignoring your calls. Those cases will proceed to the LTB just as they would in the past. Unfortunately, the backlog at the LTB was infamous even before the pandemic.
However, the new amendment does provide some benefits for landlords. For instance, landlords now must be given advance notice of issues the tenant intends to raise at an eviction hearing, such as a request for rent abatement due to the condition of the property. And the new amendment moves some claims for compensation, like for unpaid utilities or property damage, from Small Claims Court to the Landlord and Tenant Board. It also extends the limitation period for bringing some claims to include former tenants.
Bill 184 focuses on amendments designed to make it more onerous for a landlord to conduct “no-fault” evictions, such as for purchase, personal use, demolition, conversion, or renovation. Now, a tenant can claim that an eviction was made in “bad faith” and receive up to 12 months of rent as compensation. Fines for violating the rules also were doubled and now range from $50,000-$250,000.
The passage of Bill 184 coincides with the lifting of an eviction moratorium that has been in place since March, barring landlords from pursuing eviction claims against non-paying tenants. Last week, the LTB announced that, as of August 1, 2020, it will begin to issue pending eviction orders and consent eviction orders based on settlement agreements. The Board says it will continue to hear urgent eviction matters related to health and safety that are scheduled, begin to schedule hearings for non-urgent evictions, and conduct hearings on those non-urgent cases beginning mid-August.
Meanwhile, the LTB advises tenants that they do not need to move out of a rental unit pending an eviction hearing and until a Sheriff enforces any subsequent eviction order.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is 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.