Ontario landlords say they are continuing to face major delays in hearing cases at the Landlord Tenant Board.
The issue is causing several to question whether it’s worth the risk to continue legal battles against tenants, whom they say owe rent from during the pandemic and before.
Quentin D’Souza took over a property in Oshawa back in 2019 and says he immediately had issues with a tenant.
“I had one tenant who, when we took over the building, right at the very beginning stopped paying in November of 2019,” D’Souza said.
Although it happened more than a year ago, D’Souza says it took about that long to get a hearing with the LTB — and that the incident wasn’t the only one.
“I had a second tenant in January that stopped paying and decided she wasn’t going to continue to pay because of the Landlord Tenant Board,” he says.
Both tenants owed $10,000 to the landlord, he says, and what made matters worse for him was that, “The tenants’ financial situation never really changed.”
D’Souza claims one tenant was also spending money right in front of him.
“It was almost like playing psychological games,” he says.
“One of the tenants was buying new furniture,” he told Global News.
“I had to out of my own pocket throw out their old furniture while they weren’t paying me rent.”
D’Souza says because of the delays, he suffered unnecessary loss that could have been solved in a shorter time.
“I understand there are bad landlords, and there are bad tenants too,” D’Souza said. “So let’s fix the system and everybody gets justice.”
And that’s a similar story for hundreds of other landlords, as well.
Arjumand Shafique, who purchased a property in Bowmanville, found himself out more than $75,000.
One day, he says, his tenant refused to give him rent after they paid the deposit.
“She refused to pay me any rent,” says Shafique. “There was no reason. Her husband and herself, they were both working.”
The financial hardship, he says, has been taking a toll on his mental health as well.
“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve had many sleepless nights, fights with my wife and anxiety,” he says.
Shafique says it took two hearings to remove that tenant, as she promised to pay rent and then didn’t again. But he says when they finally left, he discovered this wasn’t the first time she had been to the LTB.
“The person was evicted three times at the Landlord Tenant Board, prior to me. Why would they give her another chance to pay, when they knew she didn’t before?” he says.
“Doesn’t that show a pattern?”
The growing problem was the main reason Boubahcar Bah started Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario, a grassroots organization that can help landlords advocate for help. Bah says although he understands it’s a tough time for a lot of people, he says so-called ‘professional tenants’ are taking advantage of the system.
“The pandemic and eviction ban gives them even more power,” says Bah.
The tribunal has seen major delays, causing a backlog in the system for what some say are legitimate eviction requests.
“You have some people who are taking advantage of that, knowing only the LTB can evict them. They refuse to leave,” Bah says.
“We need business support. We need it like yesterday.”
The board is now holding virtual hearings to try and clear the delays, and is increasing resources.
“We have more adjudicators than ever,” says Durham MPP Lindsay Park. “We’re continuing to make sure they are well-resourced.”
The government is asking for landlords and tenants to work together as often as they can. But while the backlog is worked through, some landlords say they continue to pay the price.
“I consider myself somebody who provides housing for people, safe housing, and all I want to do is just get paid what I’m owed,” says D’Souza.