Rent Control Bulletin: Court Schools LTB Over Treatment of Landlord and Dogs

October 2017

Rent Control Bulletin – October 2017

The Ontario Divisional Court recently issued a ruling in response to a Landlord’s
appeal of a Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) Order requiring the Landlord to pay
thousands of dollars to a Tenant whose dog had gone missing. The Divisional
Court, which has supervisory jurisdiction on appeals of “unreasonable” LTB
decisions, admonished the LTB for its lack of fairness in its treatment of the
Landlord; for issuing orders that it had no jurisdiction to make; and, for issuing
orders to pay the tenant damages totaling $8700.00 when the Tenant had only
claimed $436.49. In addition, the Court ordered the Tenant to pay the Landlord’s
costs on appeal of $7000.00.

An electronic copy of the Court’s decision is available at the following link:

Verjineh Aghazarian v. Wanda Cena, 2017 ONSC 3990

What is clear from the Court’s summary of facts is that when the Tenant
appeared, the Board Member made negative assumptions about the Landlord’s
behavior and imposed substantial financial liability far in excess of that requested
by the Tenant. The Board did this despite knowing the Landlord had no
opportunity to address the higher amount of damages that the Board Member
unilaterally intended to impose. If you read the Order, you will see its terms and
conditions relative to the dog and damages, to put it kindly, border on the absurd.

To make matters worse, the Board Member who reviewed the Order at the
request of the Landlord made a summary decision to dismiss the Review
Request without any regard to the Landlord’s statements and submissions and
without giving the Landlord an opportunity to tell her side of the story. In addition to
the lack of fairness to the Landlord, neither Board Member appears to have
questioned their authority and legal jurisdiction to impose the bizarre terms of the
Order relative to the dog. The Divisional Court, however, had no difficulty
determining that the Board’s decisions and conduct relative to fairness toward the
Landlord were “unreasonable”. The Court determined that nothing in the RTA
permitted the Board to issue orders about the dog, or damages incurred by the
Tenant relative to the dog.

There is always a remedy for unreasonable Board decisions available at the
Divisional Court; however, such proceedings are costly; the perception of what is
“unreasonable” is subjective; and, the high level of deference typically afforded to
the Board can be difficult to overcome in an appeal. The Divisional Court’s
emphasis on the jurisdictional bounds of the RTA and the importance of ensuring
procedural fairness at all stages of an application will undoubtedly be helpful to the
Board’s decision-makers and will encourage a more balanced approach than that
displayed in the underlying Board decisions of this proceeding.

Author

Joe's main areas of practice include residential tenancies, municipal planning and zoning, expropriations, and property tax assessment appeals. Joe has a wealth of litigation experience before a variety of boards, tribunals, and appellate courts. He is author of "A Practical Guide to the Tenant Protection Act". More →