After a spike in complaints over serious delays at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, Ontario’s Ombudsman announced an investigation to address the problem.
According to Ombudsman Paul Dubé, complaints about long wait times in obtaining hearings and decisions by the Board have increased.
Last fiscal year, of the 200 complaints received, 160 centered on delays. This fiscal year, the office already has received 110 similar complaints, including 43 this past month.
Mr. Dubé cited the “very real human impact” of these delays when announcing an investigation. “For example, when a landlord whose family relies on the rental income of a property has to go without that money for months before the LTB even schedules a hearing,” he says.
It is no secret that Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board is experiencing significant backlog. The LTB itself flagged the problem with an announcement on its website. News agencies have carried stories of landlords waiting months to get a hearing in cases where the tenants haven’t been paying rent or have damaged the rental property. One of the most recent examples is a Windsor landlord who was granted an eviction in November, but had to wait more than eight weeks to receive the executed order to pass on to the sheriff.
The LTB’s website attributes these delays in part to a lack of adjudicators, an issue it is attempting to remedy by extending terms for existing adjudicators and training new recruits. But that may be only part of the problem. The most recent Tribunals Ontario report notes that the LTB has not met its own service goals since 2017.
The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial officer of the Ontario Legislature. He does not overturn decisions of elected officials or set public policy, but can make recommendations to ensure administrative fairness, transparency, and accountability. Those recommendations are likely to be accepted.
According to Mr. Dubé, the investigation will center on what steps the government is taking to address the backlog and will go beyond the lack of adjudicators to consider other factors such as legislation, training, funding, and technology. He is confident that his office will be able to apply its expertise in streamlining bureaucracies like the LTB.
Landlords who wish to weigh in or anyone with relevant information is encouraged to contact the Ombudsman’s Office by filing an online complaint form at www.ombudsman.on.ca, or by calling 1-800-263-1830.
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