Highlights of Our Meeting with the Ministry of Housing
February 2011 – Landlord Justice, LTB
On Thursday, February 17, 2011, Senior Members of the Ontario Landlords Association met with three Senior Members of Minister Bartolucci’s staff at the Ministry of Housing Offices, 777 Bay Street, Toronto. Also in attendance was the Honourable MPP Mike Colle, who really engaged with us and shared a number of troubling stories from his own constituents.
MPP Colle organized the important ‘Bed Bug Summit’ for landlords and tenants last September. The Summit was instrumental in looking at the Bed Bug issue, with stakeholders from all sides of the Housing sector involved.
OLA Members presented a “Top Ten” style list of concerns on behalf of the SMALL business landlords of Ontario, who we succeded in differentiating in terms of the impact the RTA and LTB have on us as compared to the BIG corporate landlords. Simply put, the small landlords cannot afford, and often never recover from their losses at the hands of bad tenants and the process involved in trying to evict those tenants.
Our “Top Ten” official concerns were as follows:
1. The filing fee should be the same for landlords and tenants alike for an LTB hearing.
2. We want the return of damage deposits!
3. We want “no pets” in a lease to mean “no pets”! No opting out! Same with extra tenants moving in after lease is signed!
4. The new suite metering rules should be amended because it’s not currently possible to provide past tenant’s utility info!
5. The ORHC guidelines for tenant selection and accommodation are completely unfair!
6. Small landlords NEED the 9 regional LTB offices that closed in 2008 to re-open!
7. We are concerned about the extreme number of OW and ODSP tenants scamming us! And walking away!
8. If a tenant can take a LL to the LTB after the tenancy ends, give the LL the same opportunity!
9. There is no “Freedom of Information” at the LTB – We cannot search a prospective tenant’s history at the Board
10. Prior evictions are not admissible in current eviction proceedings!
Further, we shared the fact that in 2010 alone, rent arrears from OW tenants in her own cases accounted for $118,700 in rent that the taxpayers paid for (via the shelter allowance on their OW cheque), the landlord didn’t receive, and will never be able to recover. “That’s an adjudicator’s salary”! Termie was so alarmed by this figure that she announced that she will immediately embark on a study, with the help of the OLA, to canvass Ontario landlords to see how much THEY have lost at the hands of ODSP and OW tenants. This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks! If the OHRC wants to make us rent to those folks, then guarantee the bloody payment!
Vince Shanahan explained the old eviction system (via the Ontario courts) vs. the “Failed Experiment” called the Landlord and Tenant Board. Vince’s written materials were included in our package and certainly raised eyebrows… Vince pleaded urged the Ministry to embark on a comprehensive media campaign designed to educate landlords and tenants on not only their RIGHTS, but their responsibilities, too!
Another member spoke about her own nightmare ride through the LTB process when her OW tenant decided to take her for “the ride”, and also touched on the “extortion” that often takes place, thanks to Legal Aid’s duty counsel program…Janer is also currently dealing with another potential nightmare: her current home has been sold, she wishes to move into one of her units, but the tenant won’t move out, and if the LTB doesn’t deal with the matter in a timely fashion, Janer and her family could very well be homeless! And the LTB won’t care! Janer also discussed her interaction with the Investigation and Enforcement Unit when she turned to them for help and in a word, she found them “useless”!!
We also pointed out the insanity of the new suite metering rules, the OHRC guideline for landlords, and made it clear that the road is being paved for NO new investment in private residential housing in this Province. Because it does SUCK to be a landlord in Ontario! We also raised a very key question: Since the RTA was amended in 2006, no more default Orders were allowed, and every tenant was thereby entitled to a hearing… “How many new adjudicators were added to handle the increased case load at the LTB?”? The Ministry Staff could not answer, but promised to find out. This is very important because we doubt any extra were hired and the LTB is now over booking hearings on a regular basis. That equates to ridiculous periods of time to get tenants evicted, while the small landlord’s losses mount!
Shane Curtis, President of the Tilsonburg Chamber of Commerce, and new OLA Member, introduced the latest tool in our quest for change: an official policy submission to the government, via numerous Chambers of Commerce in Ontario, who represent a significant number of small business landlords among their core membership!
We celebrate the fact that the voices of the average small landlord were heard! The meeting was very useful as the Ministry has been educated on the real world issues of landlords. We look forward to our next meeting for further discussion of these very important issues.
Despite opposition from some tenant activists, unruly tenants, people with devious motives, people with self-serving interests, etc…..we will continue to work hard for you.
Our ultimate goal and Mission Statement is to make change for the better for all small business landlords in Ontario!