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Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
Ombudsman Asked To Investigate Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal
Concerning the Failure of the Tenant Protection Act and the Rules and Procedures of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to meet Ombudsman Fairness Standards
June 20, 2002


Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)

Page Contents:

Media Release: Ombudsman Asked To Investigate Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal

Background & Quick Facts - Media Conference June 20, 2002

Table of Contents of SUBMISSION TO THE OMBUDSMAN ONTARIO Concerning the Failure of the Tenant Protection Act and the Rules and Procedures of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to meet Ombudsman Fairness Standards

Download the SUBMISSION TO THE OMBUDSMAN ONTARIO


MEDIA ADVISORY
- for immediate release -

OMBUDSMAN ASKED TO INVESTIGATE ONTARIO RENTAL HOUSING TRIBUNAL

TORONTO - On Thursday June 20th at 1:00 p.m. in the Queen's Park Media Studio, a detailed submission to the Ontario Ombudsman will be released to the media. The Ombudsman is being asked to undertake an investigation of the practices of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal pursuant to the Tenant Protection Act.

"In its drive for efficiency, the government has removed a key principle of our justice system - the right to be heard. Granting eviction applications without a hearing may be efficient, but it is costing tenants their homes unnecessarily," says Kathy Laird, Legal Director at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO). "At every turn, the Tenant Protection Act and the procedures of the Housing Tribunal do not meet the Fairness Standards of the Ombudsman."

Ms Laird is an experienced housing and human rights lawyer, mediator and adjudicator. She was for many years a Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Board of Inquiry and has served as Counsel to the Chair of the Human Rights Board. She has played a leading role in the tribunal sector and has trained provincial adjudicators at various Ontario tribunals.

"Government agencies are mandated to perform within a standard of fairness. In this legislation, the government has traded fairness for expediency," says Ms Laird.

The Ombudsman is empowered to investigate the practices of provincial government organizations and to make recommendations where an "act or omission… appears to have been … unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory."

Ms Laird will be joined by ACTO Staff Lawyer Toby Young and Margaret Hefferon, a retired Public Health nurse with the Caring Alliance.

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For more information:
Jennifer Ramsay, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
416-597-5855 x5168


MEDIA CONFERENCE JUNE 20, 2002
BACKGROUND

QUICK FACTS

Tenant Protection Act proclaimed in effect June 17, 1998
Number of days by which a tenant must file a written response to an eviction application 5 or a "default order" will be issued
Percentage of tenant households in Ontario 40%      1
Number of applications filed under Landlord and Tenant Act (primarily for eviction) in Ontario in 1997 49,679       2
Number of all landlord and tenant applications filed at ORHT in 2001 72,196       3
Eviction applications filed at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal in 2001 60,853      4
Number of calendar days by which a tenant must file a written response to an eviction application or a "default order" will be issued 5 days       5
Percentage of eviction applications that are granted with no hearing
(June 17, 1998 to December 31, 2001)
57%       6
Number of landlord applications resolved by default order (2001) 34,798       7
Number of tenant applications resolved by default order (2001) i.e. there is no hearing 58       8
Percentage of eviction orders for arrears of less than $652 (Ontario, excluding GTA, in 2001) 50%       9

Footnotes:

1. December 2001 FACT SHEET - Income and Wealth of Owners and Renters in Ontario - supplement to Hulchanski, David. A Tale of Two Canadas: Homeowners Getting Richer, Renters Getting Poorer. Research Bulletin #2, Centre for Urban and Community Studies. August, 2001

2. Lapointe, Linda. Options for Eviction Prevention, November 1998. Background report for the City of Toronto Mayor's Homelessness Action Task Force.

3. Ibid.

4. Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal Workload Report - Province - Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2001

5. Subsection 177 (2)(a) of Tenant Protection Act

6. Calculated from Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal Workload Report - Province - from Jun. 17, 1998 to Dec. 31, 2001

7. Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal Workload Report - Province - Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2001

8. Ibid.

9. See 2001 Toronto Report Card on Homelessness, page 15, where the figure of $800 is given as the median for arrears for the City of Toronto for 2000. The City of Toronto, through its Social Policy and Research Unit, has done extensive analysis of ORHT orders, both default and hearing orders. For 2001, this analysis demonstrates that the median amount of arrears in eviction orders is $813 in Toronto; $745 in Greater Toronto Area, excluding Toronto; and $652 for the rest of the province.


TABLE OF CONTENTS OF SUBMISSION TO THE OMBUDSMAN ONTARIO


INTRODUCTION page 1

WHO WE ARE page 1

KEY ISSUES

Failure to Meet Fairness Standards
in Eviction Proceedings page 2

Failure to Meet Fairness Standards in Procedure
for Restoring Wrongfully Evicted Tenant to Possession page 3

Rent Increases Based on One-Time Increases
in Utility Costs page 3

BACKGROUND

The Legislation and the Tribunal page 4

The Context: The Affordable Housing Market
and the Tenant Population page 5

AREAS FOR INVESTIGATION BY OMBUDSMAN

I   First Area for Investigation: The Eviction Process page 9

How Many Eviction Applications are Taken to ORHT? Page 9

How Eviction Applications are Resolved: Default Orders page 9

Setting Aside a Default Eviction Order page 10

What Happens When a Tenant Files a Written Dispute? Page 11

How Many Applications are Resolved through Mediation? Page 12

What are the Outcomes in Eviction Applications? Page 12

What are the Fairness Issues Behind the Eviction Application Statistics? Page 13

i) Disproportional Impact on Tenants page 14
ii) Efficiency Valued over Accessibility and Fairness page 16
iii) No Opportunity to Present Tenant Side of Dispute page 18
iv) Notice of Hearing Not Clear and Understandable page 20
v) Tribunal Not Required to Deliver Notice of Hearing page 21
vi) Five Day Dispute Period is Inadequate page 23
vii) No Opportunity for Mediation in Default Process page 24
viii) Mediation Process Not Designed to Facilitate Fair Settlements page 26
ix) No Public Information Materials to Assist Tenants page 28
x) Tribunal Decisions Not Available page 31
xi) Failure to Appropriately Exercise Discretion page 34
xii)Tribunal Application Fees Create Barriers to Justice page 36

II   Second Issue for Investigation: The Process for Restoring a Wrongfully Evicted Tenant to Possession page 38

III   Third Issue for Investigation: Rent Increases Based on One-Time Increases in Utility Costs page 41

i) Guideline Rent Increases page 42
ii) Above-Guideline Rent Increases page 42
iii) The 50 Panorama Court Example page 44
iv) Addressing the Unreasonable Result page 46

WHAT CHANGES CAN BE MADE WITHOUT LEGISLATION

1. New Notice of Eviction Application page 47
2. Notice of Eviction Application Mailed
to Tenant Respondents page 48
3. New Informational Materials for Tenant Parties page 48
4. Reduction in Application Fees page 48
5. Better Training for Adjudicators in Discretionary Relief page 48
6. Establish a Full Database of ORHT Decisions page 49
7. Establish a Transparent and Accessible Process
for Tenants Wrongfully Locked Out of Housing page 49
8. Offer Mediation in Advance of Hearing Date
in Disputed Eviction Applications page 49

WHAT CHANGES REQUIRE LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS?

9. Removal of Default Eviction Process page 50
10. No Requirement to File a Written Dispute page 50
11. Amend Provision for Discretionary Refusal to Evict
to Make Consideration Mandatory page 50
12. Delineate Factors to be Considered
in Exercising Discretion page 50
13. Repeal Provision Allowing Above-Guideline Rent Increases
for the Cost of Utilities page 51
14. Introduce a Mechanism to Roll Back Rents
When Costs are No Longer Borne page 51

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR FROM THE OMBUDSMAN page 51

CONCLUSION page 52

 

 

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This page was last updated June 20, 2002