Bill 184 which extensively amended the Residential Tenancies Act (the RTA) has been law for 25 months although major portions of the bill were only proclaimed into law on September 1st, 2021.
It’s hard to separate the Bill 184 amendments from the COVID delays and procedural changes which have become permanent. There is no going back.
So where are we two years later? Virtual Zoom hearings are likely here to stay. Natural Justice issues abound due to the digital divide that tends to correlate with the haves and have-nots. Counter service has disappeared, and will likely never return in an effort to cut costs.
The LTB is finally a one-stop-shop for all residential tenancy issues including post-, occupation claims, unpaid utilities, loss by conduct (as opposed to physical damage) and those are great changes. Post-occupation claims will be interesting, as landlords will now have to serve tenants at their new location which is sometimes difficult to ascertain. This is just like the Small Claims Court process, and creates all sorts of set-asides, reviews and appeals.
The sky did not fall as predicted by tenant advocates with the new changes allowing kitchen table re-payment agreements, bypassing an LTB hearing to result in eviction if the agreement was breached.
Three years after the slow attrition of adjudicators caused by both Premiers Wynne and Ford, the Board is back to a full compliment, actually a record compliment of adjudicators. But the delays are still completely unacceptable. Online is not nearly as efficient and the Board is still suffering from the lingering effects of the five months shutdown in 2020. One positive aspect of not having hearings in a physical location is that it forced the LTB to finally make proper Rules regarding disclose of documents prior to a hearing. There is far less trial by ambush with the new procedures.
And it’s not just the LTB but the Sheriff is also way behind, with Peel Region currently taking more than six weeks to evict following the filing of the Board’s eviction order by a landlord.
Unfortunately, the Ford changes in Bill 184 were far too timid. There were a lot of improvements to the rules related to bad faith evictions for landlord or purchaser’s use or extensive renovation. These were in addition to the 2017 Kathleen Wynne changes which made it tougher and more dangerous to evict on these grounds. However, most landlords don’t know the rules anyway so that hardly matters.
And in terms of administration, they are making great efforts to adapt to a new online system where email has replaced faxes and video has replaced hearing rooms. But my colleagues and I are having terrible times with lost applications, orders not being issued, hearing dates not being set and emails not being answered.
So in summary, two years after major changes we still have a system that is far too remedial in favour of the tenant, and far too slow, procedural and overly exacting on the landlord side.
A train wreck it was, and a train wreck it still is. For a full review of the Bill 184 changes you can get the webinar with one hour video at my website.