housing, News

UPDATE ON LANDLORD AND TENANT LAW: EVICTION SUSPENSION LIFTED AND CHANGES TO EVICTION PROCESS

Repost from HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario. 

The COVID-19 pandemic eviction ban is being lifted in Ontario on August 4, 2020. This means that evictions can once again take place in Ontario. There remains a process for evictions, but for most evictions that process is now different due to recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. Some of the changes related to evictions and other things are as follows:

Evictions can now be fast tracked at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) if a tenant agrees to a repayment plan with their landlord but then misses a payment. It is very important for tenants to get legal advice before agreeing to repayment plans because not following the terms of a plan could lead the landlord to get an eviction order without a hearing at the LTB. If a tenant receives an eviction order in these circumstances, they have only 10 days to request a hearing.

  • Tenants facing eviction for rent owing must now provide written notice to their landlord if they want to raise various issues at the eviction hearing including issues related to repair problems in their units. Before the changes were made to the law, tenants could automatically raise these issues.
  • If a tenant does not challenge an illegal rent increase within 12 months, the new rent now becomes legal and cannot be disputed.
  • Landlords now have 12 months to bring former tenants to the LTB for issues such as rent owing. Before the changes were made to the law, landlords had to take former tenants to Small Claims Court. As Small Claims Court has much stricter rules than the LTB to ensure that tenants are made aware of hearings, there is concern that former tenants will not learn of the hearings at the LTB.

For more details about the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, see this article produced by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario.

While the changes to the law are being challenged in court, the changes are currently in effect. We will provide an update when we have more information about the court challenge.

This information is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you live in the City of Kingston, Township of South Frontenac, or Township of Frontenac Islands, please call us at 613-541-0777 or complete the online intake form at https://kclc.ca/contact/ for advice about your specific situation.

housing

Doug Ford’s changes to social housing eviction rules won’t make communities safer

Even a verbal altercation with a neighbour could give rise to an eviction order and a five-year ban from social housing, regardless of whether there is a criminal conviction

BY OCTOBER 5, 2019 10:26 AM

It’s a situation that could happen anywhere, but let’s say it happens in social housing in Toronto: two neighbours have a verbal dispute that leads to threats.

As of September 23, if you live in social housing, that situation could result in you being banned from having a home for five years – even if no criminal action is taken.

The Government of Ontario has given the green light to social housing providers (like Toronto Community Housing Corporation) to refuse applications from people who have been evicted in the last five years for an “illegal act” in a social housing building.

The province claims the move will protect “vulnerable seniors and children” in community housing buildings. But excluding people from social housing will only exacerbate the homeless crisis, and further punish Ontarians living with mental health, addictions and disabilities. It will make our communities less safe.
Ontarians living in social housing, in particular racialized residents and those living with mental health issues, are already over-criminalized.

For low-income people who get caught up in the justice system, banishment and exile from social housing represents an additional punishment that will affect them long after they have served their sentences.

Shockingly, Ford’s sanction could be used to deny housing to an entire family where one member of the household has been evicted for an illegal act in the past five years. Collective punishment is a repressive measure that only serves to destabilize already-struggling families and communities.

Take, for example, a dispute between two neighbours where threats are exchanged. That single verbal altercation could give rise to an “illegal act” eviction order, regardless of whether or not there is a criminal conviction.

That means the entire family, and anyone else on the lease, including their children, could be subject to the five-year ban.

A person with an opiate addiction rooted in chronic-pain management could be caught up by the ban even after serving a criminal sentence for simple possession, completing rehabilitation and receiving treatment.

For many, social housing is often the ”housing provider of last resort.” When a person gets evicted, they and their family members don’t just disappear. They may end up on the street, trapped in a cycle of survival and destitution that is almost impossible to escape.

Those evicted tenants become displaced from their communities and social supports. Those who are lucky take on market rents in substandard and precarious housing conditions.

Removing this critical safety net from people already stuck in a cycle of poverty will only further entrench the conditions that led to legal troubles in the first place.

Stable housing and appropriate social supports are foundational to safe and healthy communities. Nobody benefits when a person is sentenced to five years of homelessness.

The government must invest in policies and programs that help support Ontarians with mental health and addiction issues – not punish them. It must invest money in our crumbling social housing infrastructure, strengthen rent control and improve social assistance so that those in social housing have more power over their lives.

It must invest in policies that work instead of fear-mongering against those who need support the most.

Amy Slotek is a Toronto-area lawyer. Brendan Jowett is a staff housing lawyer at Neighbourhood Legal Services in Toronto.

*This article was reproduced from nowtoronto.com
https://nowtoronto.com/news/ford-government-social-housing/