Stopping the unscrupulous tenant from working the system
By Lisa Laredo
Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act includes, as one of its purposes, the protection of tenants from unlawful evictions. Accordingly, the Act has set up an elaborate code of procedure governing the steps required before an eviction order can be obtained from the Landlord and Tenant Board. WATCH VIDEO
In the area of non-payment of rent, sections 59 and 74 give the tenant in arrears an opportunity, at various stages of the process, to halt the eviction process by paying the rent owing and costs, if applicable. Unfortunately, the procedural scheme gives an unscrupulous tenant the opportunity to work the system and manage to hang on to the tenancy for many months without paying any rent. By the use of cheques which never clear and false statements along with the use of every procedural and appeal possibility, the enforcement of the eviction order is postponed while no rent is paid. Read National Post story
The courts have recognized that the procedural safeguards have to be changed to stop the misuse of the system by such unscrupulous tenants. I would suggest that the first area to update is the proof of payment by the tenant. At the present time, the board will accept the tenant’s affidavit that the rent has been paid. It is then up to the landlord to show that the rent, in fact, has not been paid.
A better proof of payment is required. Most tenants have bank accounts. It should be possible for a tenant to pay by certified cheque if he wishes to put an end to eviction proceedings. For those tenants who have no bank account, they should be required to make their payment in cash. When an application to the board is current, all payments should be paid directly to the board. Such a change would require that the board have a simple procedure for payment.
A safeguard against unscrupulous appeal proceedings might be the requirement of getting leave to appeal. To be meaningful, procedure must be in place to endure a very expeditious hearing of the leave application.
Both of the above measures would go a long way to stopping the unscrupulous tenant who never intends to pay.