Raj Salwan, a small landlord in Toronto, finds himself in a dire financial situation due to a non-paying tenant. His tenant owes over $34,000 in rent arrears, leaving Salwan to cover the costs of his mortgage and utilities with a loan against his own home. The situation has taken a toll on Salwan and his family, causing immense mental agony. Unfortunately, his struggle is not unique.
Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), the tribunal responsible for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants, has been struggling with a substantial backlog of cases for several years. A recent ombudsman report revealed that the LTB had over 38,000 unheard cases, with the majority of complaints coming from landlords. The report criticized the board for its excruciatingly long delays and described it as “fundamentally failing.”
The backlog at the LTB existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but was exacerbated by a five-month moratorium on eviction hearings. The measures put in place to protect tenants from eviction, combined with drastic income reductions, created a challenging situation for landlords across Canada. Notably, other provinces like British Columbia and Quebec also experienced exploding wait times due to staffing shortages and increased demand.
The delays at the LTB disproportionately affect small landlords like Salwan, who rely on rental income to cover their own expenses. While larger companies may view non-paying tenants as a cost of doing business, small landlords face catastrophic consequences if a tenant fails to pay for even a few months.
However, it’s not just landlords who suffer from the backlog. Renters also face significant challenges. Tribunals like the LTB play a crucial role in enforcing rental housing rules and protecting the rights of both landlords and tenants. Unfortunately, the delays prevent tenants from obtaining timely resolutions to their complaints, leaving them in precarious living situations.
The ongoing issues at the LTB are contributing to Canada’s housing crisis. As rents continue to rise, more tenants struggle to afford their homes, amplifying the demand for affordable housing. Additionally, the breakdown of the system erodes trust and confidence in the landlord-tenant relationship, further exacerbating the housing crisis.
It is crucial for the LTB to address its backlog and improve efficiency to ensure that both landlords and tenants have access to justice. By hiring more adjudicators and implementing measures to streamline the process, the LTB can alleviate the burden on all parties involved. Only then can Ontario and other provinces effectively navigate the housing crisis and provide the necessary support to landlords and tenants.
1. How long has the backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board existed?
According to a recent ombudsman report, the backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board has been present for several years.
2. What caused the backlog to worsen?
The backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board was worsened by a five-month moratorium on eviction hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Who is predominantly affected by the delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board?
The delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board disproportionately affect small landlords who rely on rental income to cover their own expenses.
4. How are tenants impacted by the delays?
The delays prevent tenants from obtaining timely resolutions to their complaints, leaving them in precarious living situations and unable to address issues with their rental units.
5. How are the delays contributing to the housing crisis?
The delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board erode trust and confidence in the landlord-tenant relationship, further exacerbating the housing crisis. Additionally, rising rents make it increasingly difficult for tenants to afford their homes.