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The Ontario Landlord-Tenant Board’s Response to COVID-19

Posted by AMR on August 13, 2020
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We get a lot of questions regarding COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on Ontario’s landlord & tenant board’s handling of the rental laws. As a landlord, you likely have a lot of questions regarding your rental property and the tenants living in it so that you can navigate this challenging time legally and plan for the future. 

In this post, we’ve outlined the most up-to-date information available from Tribunals Ontario at the time of this blog’s posting. 

Landlord-Tenant Board Services Currently Available 

As of August 1st, 2020, the Ontario Landlord-Tenant Board (LTB) increased the services available to landlords. This includes:  

  • Issuing eviction orders that were previously pending.
  • Scheduling and performing non-urgent eviction hearings.
  • Issuing consent eviction orders for landlords & tenants settling disputes by agreement.
  • Proceeding with urgent eviction hearings that were previously scheduled and relate to the health & safety of the parties involved.

The LTB’s in-person services remain closed for the time being, and they strongly encourage using email to contact them. 

Extension of the Suspension of Limitation Periods

Following the Ontario government’s suspension of limitation periods (otherwise known as the deadlines for completing something) on March 20th, 2020, the government recently extended this suspension to last until September 11th, 2020. 

If an application deadline falls during the period that this Emergency Order is in effect, the party filing the application receives an automatic time extension to file this application. The length of this extension will be the number of days between March 16th, 2020, and the original filing date.

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For example, if the application was originally due on March 30th, the extension period will be 14 days from the day that the Emergency Order is lifted. 

Documents Sent by Email 

Typically, The LTB sends documents (including hearing notices) via email if the parties involved provide the board with an email address. At the present moment, the LTB will continue this process. You should make sure that the board has your correct email address on file. Alternatively, the LTB will send these documents via regular mail. 

Please note, however, the LTB will not send documents containing eviction provisions or monetary enforcement. 

Hearings

Court hearings that were scheduled in-person prior to the COVID-19 outbreak will now be rescheduled and will take place via videoconference using Microsoft Teams, phone, or in writing. New hearing applications will also take place in these formats. 

If a participant cannot use videoconference, they will also have the option to participate by phone or other alternate hearing formats. Look out for updated information regarding hearings, which the LTB will send out as soon as they have it. 

Evictions

Beginning on August 1st, 2020 the LTB will begin the following aspects of the eviction process

  • Issuing pending eviction orders.
  • Issuing consent eviction orders based on landlords and tenants settling disputes through agreement.
  • Scheduling and conducting hearings for non-urgent evictions.

The LTB will continue hearing urgent eviction matters concerning the health and safety of the parties involved that were previously scheduled. At this time, the LTB is discontinuing the Request for Urgent Hearings (RUH) service that they established on March 20th, 2020 in response to COVID-19. 

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Filing Applications

At this time, the LTB is accepting all applications and scheduling future hearings to be held via videoconference, telephone, or in writing. Most applications can be filled out online using e-File and the LTB encourages all parties to use this service. If you cannot use e-File, you can also submit an application by mailing or faxing it to the LTB Regional Office. 

Please note that applications sent by mail or fax may take longer to process. 

In certain special cases, you can submit an application in-person at ServiceOntario. In-person applications can only be submitted in the case that a person:

  • Has an application represents an emergency situation.
  • Does not have computer access.
  • Only has access to limited payment options (specifically cheque, cash, or money order).
  • Has other limitations that prevent you from filing alternative application methods. 

ServiceOntario’s website has a list of locations accepting applications and documents in person for the LTB. Use this resource to determine the location closest to you. 

Rent Payments

Tenants who cannot pay their rent due to COVID-19 should speak with their landlords and come to an agreement on retaining tenancy by deferring or making other payment options available. If landlords and tenants cannot come to an agreement, they should seek free, general advice from Legal Aid Ontario. 

At this time, landlords cannot charge fees or penalties for late rent payments. 

Rental Unit Entry

Landlords should do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by only requesting entry to a tenant’s unit in urgent or emergency situations. If they need to enter a unit, they should adhere to the government’s physical distancing guidelines at all times. 

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Landlords who are selling or renting a unit that is already occupied should avoid in-person showings to prospective tenants. As always, landlords must also follow the Human Rights Code and accommodate any tenants who have disabilities. 

Any landlord, authorized broker, or salesperson wishing to enter a rental unit must provide a tenant with written notice at least 24 hours prior to the time of entry stating what day and time they will enter (must be between 8 am and 8 pm) and what the reason for entry is. If tenants received this Notice of Entry, they cannot deny entry to the party wishing to enter. 

In case of an emergency, a landlord can enter a rental unit without providing a Notice of Entry to their tenant. 

Legal Advice

Small-scale landlords looking for legal advice can seek help from the Landlord Self Help Centre, a non-profit community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario. The Landlord Self Help Centre is independent of the LTB.  

Tenants who have a hearing and would like legal advice can use the free Tenant Duty Counsel Program, which is part of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. The Tenant Duty Counsel program is independent from the LTB. 

If a tenant does not have a hearing and would still like legal advice, they can seek free, general legal aid from Legal Aid Ontario. 

Contacting the LTB 

For any questions, you may have regarding the LTB’s response to COVID-19 or the most up-to-date information, email ltb@ontario.ca with your questions. The LTB is receiving a large number of calls, so email is a better point of contact at this time. 

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For more information or the most up-to-date information, refer to http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/ltb/covid-19/

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