Tenants now more vulnerable than ever – eviction at the Superior Court of Justice

August 24th, 2022 by Hunter Stone

The Landlord and Tenant Board (the LTB) is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O (the RTA), C.17, and hears matters brought by landlords and tenants regarding the rental property.

In March 2020, the world‑wide COVID‑19 pandemic hit the LTB like a ton of bricks, causing extreme backlog at the tribunal. The LTB responded by adopting an electronic approach to filing materials and hearing matters, eliminating in person hearings entirely. This electronic approach was an attempt to deliver service in a time conscious manner. Despite these efforts, the LTB was and is still experiencing backlog due to the pandemic, leaving many landlords feeling frustrated about the delayed hearing process and issuance of orders. With few avenues to turn to, landlords are utilizing the Superior Court of Justice (the Superior Court) to evict their tenants living in condo units.

In the 2005 Fraser v Beach appeal, the Superior Court determined residential tenancy evictions should be heard exclusively at the LTB. Even though this determination was made, the Superior Court continues to hear and issue evictions decisions. One such example is MTCC No. 1260 v. Singh, Superior Court Justice Frederick Myers (Justice Myers) heard. Issues relating to this matter were that the tenants dog had attacked residents of the condo, the landlord had attempted to evict the tenants at the LTB but were not able to get a hearing soon enough. Despite acknowledging that “landlord and tenant relations in Ontario are mostly governed by the RTA”, Justice Myers issued an order enforcing the eviction of the tenants.

Many tenants brought to Superior Court hearings are self represented and have little or no knowledge of applicable laws or caselaw. Self represented tenants usually can’t afford legal advice. Legal Aid Ontario, which aims to provide accessibility to justice, requires your gross family income to be lower than:

Number of family members

Amount of money your family earns in a year

1 $22,720
2 $32,131
3 $39,352
4 $45,440
5 $50,803

Rentals.ca reports that the average Ontario renter for 2022 pays $1,640 (or $19,680 per year) for a one-bedroom unit and $2,098 (or $25,176 per year) for a two‑bedroom unit. It seems unlikely for a demographic of condo renting tenants who earn enough to pay this rent could be eligible for legal aid.

Coupled with landlords bringing eviction matters to the wrong forum and the inaccessibility to affordable legal resources, tenants remain vulnerable. With the unavailability of affordable housing and yearly inflation, Ontario renters depend on secure tenancies now more than ever.

Filed in: Firm News, Housing, Litigation

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