Canada: Tenant Screws Landlord, and So Does the System

Last Updated: July 15 2014
Article by Matt Maurer

Originally published on Slaw.

A recent decision from the Divisional Court provides an outrageous and perfect example of how the legal system in the Province allows residential tenants to live rent free for over a year, and in this case, close to a year and a half.

The landlord originally applied to the Landlord and Tenant Board (the "Board") for an order terminating the tenancy and evicting the tenant on the grounds that she had failed to pay her rent.

The first hearing was scheduled for April 8, 2013. That hearing was adjourned at the tenant's request and was rescheduled to June 7, 2013.

When June 7 rolled around, the tenant sought, and obtained, another adjournment and the hearing was rescheduled to August 14, 2013.

Both of the adjournments were sought by the tenant under the guise of obtaining more time to do certain things to assist her case (obtain documents, etc.). As the Divisional Court noted, she never ended up doing any of these things.

On August 14, 2013, the tenant sought a third adjournment. The Board finally put its foot down and decided that four months of delay had been enough. The Board refused to grant another adjournment.

The Board ordered the tenant out by August 26, 2013, unless she were to void the order by paying the amount of $2,126.78 (the back rent that was owed) to the Board in Trust or to the landlord directly.

Finally, some justice for the landlord...

Not. So. Fast.

The tenant didn't leave and she didn't pony up the rent. Instead she appealed to the Divisional Court and the Board's eviction order was stayed in the interim.

The Divisional Court heard the appeal almost a year later, on June 10, 2014. The tenant raised two grounds of appeal. First, she alleged that she did not receive a fair hearing before the Board. Second, she alleged that she had made partial payment of rent and that accordingly the amount that she was ordered to pay, $2,126.78, was too high.

The Divisional Court found the appeal to have no merit on either ground. Sensing defeat, the tenant tried a new angle and raised, for the first time, allegations that the landlord improperly entered her unit and distrained her property in 2008! The Divisional Court refused to entertain that argument.

The Divisional Court dismissed the appeal and the stay of the Board's order was lifted. Justice at last for the landlord, but not before one final kick in the pants.

The landlord sought its partial indemnity costs of the appeal of just under $17,000. Meaning that the landlord's actual legal costs must have been north of $25,000. The landlord, as a corporation, was legally required to be represented by counsel. The tenant on the other hand acted for herself throughout.

The Divisional Court stated that the appeal raised "relatively simple issues" and noted that the tenant is "of very modest means". It also noted that the "amount of rent arrears in issue was merely $2,100". The Divisional Court ruled that the legal fees sought were both excessive and disproportionate to the issues raised and awarded the landlord a measly $2,500 in costs.

Now, who's interested in purchasing a rental property in Ontario?

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