The LTB has become slooooow. Is there relief on the horizon?

May 10th, 2019 by Celia Chandler

Many of our housing clients have been disappointed recently about the length of time it takes to conduct business at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Rest assured, we are doing our very best to push things along as quickly as we can. The LTB acknowledges the delay on its website:

Over past months, parties have experienced service delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). The LTB continues to work with the government to improve its services. A number of experienced adjudicators have recently been reappointed and recruitment is under way to fill other adjudicator vacancies. On January 1, 2019, the LTB became part of the newly created Tribunals Ontario organization. A review will be conducted of all tribunals, including the LTB, to identify areas for improvement to make services more streamlined, cost-effective and efficient.

This is not new – the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail both reported on the delay, and on the LTB admission of the problem, six months ago. We see no improvement since then.

A year ago, we could file an application to evict on behalf of a co‑op client and receive a Notice of Hearings one to ten days later. Two months ago we filed three applications and received the Notices of Hearings 40 days later.

Waiting for a Notice of Hearings is just the first delay for a file. The hearing schedule itself has also slipped. Back in 2014, we could reliably expect a Case Management Hearing (the first stage in a co‑op eviction) within two or three weeks of receiving the Notice of Hearings and the next stage ‑ a Merits Hearing ‑ no more than a month after that. In 2018, the Case Management Hearing date hadn’t slipped too much, but the Merits Hearing was often close to two months after that. Now the time lag between the Notice of Hearings and the Case Management hearing is more like a month, with another two months to get to a Merits Hearing.

The result? Suddenly the cost of eviction is much higher.

Often, people under threat of eviction stop paying their rent or housing charges. That’s understandable because they need to set funds aside for “first and last.” For a “market” arrears eviction (eviction of a unit paying full rent or housing charges, without subsidy), delaying a hearing by two extra months might cost the provider an extra $2400 or more in lost rent or housing charges vs five years ago. Even an eventual order for eviction and repayment of arrears is small comfort since the resources necessary to recover arrears are often prohibitively expensive. For our non‑profit and co‑operative housing clients especially, these costs can have a significant impact on their financial bottom line.

On a behaviour eviction, the impact on the community can be felt in a couple of ways. Unfortunately, some who have received LTB notices or applications simply decide to “run out the clock” and ramp up their anti‑social behaviours. The same is undoubtedly true for non‑compliant landlords. This creates further upheaval in the community. Others find the threat of a hearing pending to be sobering and so behaviour improves but it takes a toll on their emotional wellbeing. No‑one is untouched by this: other tenant and co‑op members prepared to be witnesses are stressed and worried about reprisals; and property management staff and boards are distracted from the regular business of community and property issues.

According to the Public Appointments Secretariat, of 51 full and part time LTB positions, seven are currently vacant. We believe that some relief is in sight as it appears that four are newly appointed and are hopefully engaged in heavy‑duty training – including endurance training we hope! – to begin the Herculean task of helping to clear the backlog.

Other less orthodox strategies involve adjudicators working harder. At a recent hearing in Hamilton, the adjudicator sat down at 9:30 a.m. and did not move from his seat until 4 p.m. – no food, and perhaps more alarmingly, no washroom break. He dealt with all 25 cases listed on his docket but at what cost to his own personal health! We were grateful, since our case was heard last. Had he not worked through lunch to get to the end of the list, we knew that it would be weeks or even months before we got another hearing date. Although we were pleased with the thoughtful and reasoned decision, it is worrying to think that people are making decisions about people’s housing while tired, hungry and otherwise uncomfortable.

These delays are particularly frustrating to our housing co‑op clients who, after years of lobbying to move from the overburdened court system to the LTB, got their wish five years ago on June 1, 2014. Now they are victims of another under resourced system.

The Ford government’s recent report and accompanying legislation “More Homes, more choice: Ontario’s housing supply action plan” acknowledges the delays but downplays them saying that average wait times are “more than two months!” and commits to working with the new super‑super Agency,“Tribunals Ontario” to address shortages of adjudicators at the LTB.

We beg them to fix this problem quickly. Landlords, co‑operatives and tenants deserve timely access to this important way to resolve conflicts.

Filed in: Co-operative Law, Housing, Not for Profit Law

Tags: ,

Similar Posts