KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario government says it is making an additional $1.4 million investment into the Landlord and Tenant Board, which will allow the board to hire over 35 additional operational staff to enhance scheduling, issue decisions and orders faster and help tackle the high number of cases before the board.
“We’re investing millions of dollars to increase the number of adjudicators and staff at the Landlord and Tenant Board, so the board can work to alleviate its case load, which was impacted by COVID-related delays,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “Residents and rental housing providers will get faster results, shorter wait times and a better overall experience when they need to engage the board.”
This funding will also enable the board to create a centre of excellence for client engagement to better assist those involved in cases before the board according to the province.
In the summer 2021, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced a new multi-year plan aimed at enhancing access to the justice system, which includes a $28.5-million investment in a new digital case-management and dispute-resolution system for Ontario’s tribunals. The Landlord and Tenant Board became the first to use Tribunals Ontario’s new digital case management system, an end-to-end solution that includes online dispute resolution and features to help with mediation.
Despite this many landlords report long wait times for decisions to remove delinquent tenants and resolve complaints from renters.
In 2019, in the wake of a recent surge in complaints, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé announced an investigation into serious delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), the administrative tribunal that resolves residential tenancy disputes.
Complaints to the Ombudsman about long waits for hearings and decisions by the board have increased as its case backlogs have worsened.
Of the more than 200 complaints the Ombudsman received about the LTB in fiscal 2018-2019, about 80 were specifically about delays. The Ombudsman had already received more than 110 complaints about delays in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, including 43 last month alone.
“What we’re seeing in some of these complaints is that delays have a very real human impact,” Mr. Dubé said. “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. Or when a tenant who has asked for repairs or is threatened with eviction has to live in limbo, waiting for the board’s decision.”
Tribunals Ontario has also seen a spike in complaints about LTB delays – and its most recent annual report noted that the board has not consistently met its own service standards since 2017. In the Ombudsman’s last Annual Report in 2019, he noted that Tribunals Ontario attributed delays primarily to a shortage of adjudicators.
“This timely investment is a tangible expression of the government’s support of the Landlord and Tenant Board and Tribunals Ontario,” said Sean Weir, Executive Chair of Tribunals Ontario. “These additional resources will provide welcome assistance in addressing the backlog of cases and challenges that resulted from COVID-related delays.”
The Landlord and Tenant Board resolves disputes between residential landlords and tenants and handles eviction applications filed by non-profit housing co-operatives under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.
“We recognize the important role the Landlord and Tenant Board plays in resolving housing related disputes,” said Tony Irwin, President and CEO of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. “These important investments will help ensure that both residents and rental housing providers receive timely decisions and support the accessibility of quality rental housing in Ontario.”