Ontario investing $6.5 million to tackle delays at Landlord and Tenant Board

By Amanda Jerome

Law360 Canada (April 5, 2023, 2:21 PM EDT) -- The Ontario government is appointing an “additional 40 adjudicators” and five staff members to “improve service standards and continue to reduce active applications and decision timeframes at the Landlord and Tenant Board,” while also proposing changes to strengthen a “broad range of tenant protections.”

According to a government release, issued Apr. 5, the appointment of more adjudicators, which will “more than” double the number of full-time adjudicators at the Landlord and Tenant Board, is made possible with a $6.5 million investment from the province.

“Residents and rental housing providers deserve fast results, and government bureaucracy should not stand in the way,” said Attorney General Doug Downey.

 Attorney General Doug Downey

Attorney General Doug Downey

“That is why we’re investing millions of dollars to increase the number of adjudicators and staff at the Landlord and Tenant Board, so the board can continue its work to reduce its case load, improve client service and resolve disputes faster,” he added in a statement.

Ontario is also proposing changes that would “enhance tenants’ rights to install air conditioning in their units,” and strengthening “protections against evictions due to renovations, demolitions and conversions, as well as those for landlord’s own use.”

Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, noted the “record number of rental housing starts that have occurred in recent years…”

“We know this record is being challenged by external economic factors, but we will continue to take actions that lay the groundwork for long-term housing supply growth. Meanwhile, our government is also taking real steps to make life easier, stabler and more predictable for tenants and landlords alike,” he added.

The province, the release noted, is “proposing to double the maximum fines for offences under the Residential Tenancies Act (such as bad faith renovictions) to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations. Ontario has the highest fines in Canada for residential tenancy offences.”

According to the release, if a landlord evicts a tenant “to use the unit themselves (or for their family),” the landlord (or their family members) “would have to move into the unit by a specific deadline.”

“When evicting a tenant to renovate a unit,” the release explained, landlords would be required to:

  • “provide a report from a qualified person stating the unit must be vacant for renovations to take place
  • update the tenant on the status of the renovation in writing (if they plan to return)
  • give them a 60-day grace period to move back in, once the renovations are complete.”

“If the landlord doesn’t allow the tenant to move back in at the same rent, the tenant would have two years after moving out, or six months after renovations are complete (whichever is longer), to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a remedy,” the release added.

If a tenant is in arrears of rent, the release noted, they may “enter into a repayment agreement with their landlord to pay the rent they owe and avoid eviction.”

“To make it easier for both tenants and landlords, the government is proposing to require use of the Landlord and Tenant Board’s plain language repayment agreement form. This would help ensure all parties better understand their rights and responsibilities,” the release explained.

According to the release, Ontario “remains focused on its long-term goal of creating 1.5 million homes by 2031, including rental homes.”

In October 2022, the More Homes Built Faster action plan “introduced changes to reduce barriers for home builders to replace older, mid-sized rental apartments with larger, more modern rental buildings,” the release added, noting that the government is “consulting on changes that will help to create a balanced framework governing municipal rental replacement by-laws.”

As an example, the release noted that the government is “considering requiring replacement units to have the same core features (e.g., number of bedrooms) as original units.”

“The proposals would also give existing tenants the right to move into the new unit while paying the same rent. This would help protect affordable housing while encouraging the revitalization of older, deteriorating buildings and increasing rental housing supply,” the release explained.

This funding announcement builds on an investment of $4.5 million over three years as part of the More Homes Built Faster: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan 2022-23, which was made in April 2022 and an investment of $1.4 million made in November 2022 to hire operational staff for the Landlord and Tenant Board.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for Law360 Canada, please contact Amanda Jerome at Amanda.Jerome@lexisnexis.ca or 416-524-2152.