Delinquent tenants taking advantage of eviction freeze: OLA

by Neil Sharma on 16 Feb 2021

Ontario is in a state of emergency and that means residential eviction orders have been frozen.

“The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) opened in autumn and hearings were beginning to take place online, and some eviction orders were given out, but there’s no private bailiff in Ontario to enforce the orders. It falls on the local sheriff’s office,” said William Blake, a member of the Ontario Landlord Association (OLA). “The process was working from between September and December, with landlords getting eviction orders for non-paying tenants.

“What happened was the Ford government went into an emergency situation in early January and it stopped all the enforcement because sheriffs could not fulfil the eviction orders.”

If a delinquent tenant hasn’t obliged the order moved out within 11 days of its issuance, a landlord can go to the Ministry of Justice and secure the Ontario Sheriff’s services to enforce the eviction order.

Not all regions are still affected, though. The provincial government has lifted the states of emergency in Hastings Prince Edward, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox, and Renfrew County, according to a letter sent to the OLA from the office of Lynn Dicaire, the Ontario government’s deputy registrar.

“In all other regions of the province, previously announced restrictions on enforcement of LTB evictions orders by the Sheriff remain in effect,” said the letter. “In those regions, the Sheriff cannot enforce an LTB eviction order unless the order asks the Sheriff to expedite the enforcement. If you believe the LTB should request an expedited eviction, please raise the issue at your hearing.”

The problem, says Blake, is that landlords both corporate and independent are vulnerable to the whims of the state, and without unencumbered enforcement mechanisms, delinquent tenants will keep gaming the system, as he claims they are now.

“A lot of people are taking advantage of this because there’s no enforcement of eviction,” he said. “People not previously paying rent saw this as an opportunity to keep not paying rent. If you don’t pay me for six months and I can’t enforce it, you’ll ask yourself, ‘Why do I even have to leave?’”

The federal government appears to be bungling mass vaccination for COVID-19, and with fears of new hyper-contagious variants spreading, and with Toronto’s top doctor circumspect about reopening, the city could be under another state of emergency by summer, much to the chagrin of landlords.

“That could lead to another eviction freeze that could last six months,” said Blake. “It will allow bad tenants to keep playing the system.”

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