Shut Down of Landlord and Tenant Board and Superior Courts
Both the LTB and the Ontario Court system announced that access to most in-person services, including scheduled hearings, will be shut down effective immediately until further notice. Over the weekend we notified all clients with scheduled hearings of the situation and most clients also informed tenants that their hearings are cancelled and will be re-scheduled. The only exceptions are telephone hearings which at this time are scheduled to proceed.
Most Cohen Highley Licensees were set up last week to work remotely in anticipation of the closure of legal venues and only a skeleton staff is present at the office; however, we are able to e-process Notices and Applications and ensure they are delivered as long as fax, mail and e-filing are available. Importantly, service and filing by fax continue to be permitted methods of service and in the circumstances, the service of documents by email on tenants will be effective provided it can be established that the document has come to the attention of the tenant.
Despite the closure of Court and LTB offices, it will still be necessary to comply with limitation periods and we have received direction, particularly from the courts, to ensure that documents are filed in a timely manner. We are awaiting further developments from the LTB as to processing of documents; re-scheduling of imminent hearings; and, the availability of telephone hearings to deal with undisputed applications. There is a prospect for conducting mediation by telephone if the parties and the LTB can agree. We are also exploring options for the filing and processing of AGI’s which, in many cases, are time sensitive due to prescribed limitation dates. While we do not expect the LTB to respond quickly in adjusting services, we have put ourselves in a position to protect clients’ legal interests and pursue options at the LTB when available.
For landlords, it will continue to be important to address conduct issues (there is a legal duty to address interference by one tenant with others; illegal acts; impaired safety) so Notices will still have to issue and applications will still have to be filed within limitation periods and we are set up to address this via e-filing, fax, and for the time being, mail delivery. As stated in our Bulletin last week, landlords can expect a spike in rent defaults in light of employment shut downs and to monitor and implement practical options for addressing “out of character” defaults informally rather than issuing N4’s by default. There will be people seeking to take advantage of the economic upheaval by defaulting on rent: the skill and analysis of your on-site managers and staff is indispensable at this time in assessing and addressing risk.
As always, we are available by email to address your questions and concerns. If you wish to contact us, please use firstname.lastname@example.org