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Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Legal Clinics Housing Issues Committee

SUBMISSIONS TO THE ONTARIO OMBUDSMAN

June 20, 2002

Executive Summary

The key issue that the Ombudsman is being asked to investigate is the fairness of the practices and procedures under the Tenant Protection for the eviction of tenants. The process followed by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal fails to meet the Fairness Standards established be the Ontario Ombudsman by:

  • Not affording tenants a fair opportunity to have a hearing before eviction

  • Not affording tenants a fair opportunity to have their dispute with their landlord mediated before eviction

  • Setting application fees that prevent low-income tenants from paying rent arrears and keeping their housing.

The requirement that a tenant file a written dispute within 5 days of receiving a notice of eviction hearing from their landlord, failing which an eviction order is signed forthwith, has caused over 118,000 tenants in Ontario to be evicted without a hearing since proclamation of the Tenant Protection Act. In none of these cases was there any attempt by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to help the tenant and the landlord settle their dispute on mutually-acceptable terms.

The five-day default deadline is unique to Ontario — no other legislation cuts off rights by requiring a written response after so short a period. And no other tribunal in Ontario takes no responsibility for delivering notice to the responding party that a dispute must be filed. Under the TPA, the landlord, not the Tribunal, is responsible for delivering notice to the tenant whom they are evicting.


Procedure when Tenant Unlawfully Locked Out by Landlord

The submission also raises several fairness issues with respect to the the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal's process for getting tenants back into their housing when a landlord unlawfully locks them out.

Notwithstanding the urgency of these situations, the Tribunal has failed to establish a straightforward, understandable process that tenants can follow.


Rent Increase Rules for Temporary Increases in Utilities Cost

The submission asks the Ombudsman to recommend that the Government address the unreasonableness and unfairness of the present rules under the Tenant Protection Act which govern rent increases for increases in the cost of utilities. The rules allow landlords to collect excessive rents, far above and beyond what is necessary to cover actual out-of-pocket expenses, particularly when prices subsequently fall.


Other Fairness Issues

  • Only 289 of over 90,000 Tribunal Decisions are accessible to the public;

  • The Tribunal's pamphlets and brochures assist landlord applicants. Although tenants are responding to an eviction application in 86% of all cases, there are no Tribunal publications, in paper or on the website, that assist tenants in understanding the need to respond to an eviction application in 5 days.

  • The default order process only hurts tenants. Since the Tribunal opened its doors only 204 landlords have received default orders (requiring them to pay back an illegal rent or consent to a sublet). But over 188,000 tenants have been evicted by default orders.

  • Some of the Tribunal's publications are misleading in ways that hurt tenants. For example, the pamphlet on mediation says that a mediator will phone to discuss settlement, and that this will not delay a hearing, but in fact there is no opportunity for mediation unless a written dispute is filed and this information is not included in the pamphlet.




The Failure of the Tenant Protection Act and the Rules and Procedures of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal is the full report

The Tenant Protection Act: An Attack on Tenants, to read an April 4, 1998 report that accurately predicted many of the effects of the Tenant "Protection" Act



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