Many of you are anxiously awaiting the end of the current moratorium on evictions and the end of the bureaucratic paralysis at the LTB so that major arrears applications can finally be processed in the wake of COVID-19. Here is our best information at this time as to when the new normal at the LTB might begin.
The Executive Chair of Tribunals Ontario has advised that there will not be any in-person hearings at the LTB before September. He also indicated that after the Emergency Order is lifted (whether that’s July 22 as currently planned or some other date in July), the Board will then start scheduling eviction hearings and “clear the backlog”. Since the lifting of the Emergency Order will, in any event, be effective July 31, it means that enforcement of pending eviction orders (those obtained before March 17 when the Emergency Order first issued) will, for all practical purposes, begin August 4, 2020. At that time you may ask the Sheriff to enforce those orders currently in the queue (about 2400 in the Province right now).
In addition, it won’t be until August 4th that they even start processing the eviction applications and getting notices of hearing prepared and sent out, which means that it will be the middle of August, at best, before the first standard eviction hearing occurs. Tribunal Ontario is expecting (as they should be) a surge in applications after the Emergency Order is lifted.
Tribunals Ontario also expects to have a full complement of adjudicators at the Board come September, so they will hopefully be prepared to handle the demand and keep things moving. We are advised they will be using Microsoft Teams for the hearings and mediations because of the break-out feature on that platform and there will be an emphasis going forward on video hearings rather than via phone. There is a video-conference pilot project scheduled to begin in August (not sure exactly what that entails), but stay tuned.
As many of you know, Bill 184 is nearing the end of the legislative process. Contrary to media reports and deliberate misrepresentations of some tenant advocacy groups, Bill 184 does not allow for easy evictions of tenants. Instead, what it does is set up an alternative to mediation when settling arrears and eviction applications. Right now, if you mediate a settlement, the settlement usually includes a s. 78 clause which allows a landlord to file a motion for an eviction and arrears order if the tenant fails to pay. Under Bill 184, instead of waiting for hours for a mediator (followed by months’ long adjournments because the mediator was unable to get to your file) you will be able to work out a settlement with the tenant and include a s. 78 clause in the settlement. The file will then be shelved by the Board the same way a mediated settlement is. Everything else about s.78 clauses remains the same, including the right of a tenant to move to “set aside” an Order you get when the tenant breaches the settlement. We often have recommended against mediation because professional tenants know they can use it as an interim step to further drag out proceedings (the set aside motion and hearing process can take months) and the same will hold true for settlements under Bill 184. Bottom line, not much will change when Bill 184 becomes law but you might get your hearing day over with more quickly if you enter into settlement agreements. Tribunals Ontario will be updating the settlement forms on the website soon to facilitate early resolution options (which is now being emphasized) and to align with the proposed changes to allow landlord/tenant settlements under Bill 184.