Updates from the Landlord and Tenant Board
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, ONPHA has received member feedback regarding a number of challenges to Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) operations, including backlogs, delayed access, and challenges navigating online platforms. To help rectify some of these issues, and with the input of key stakeholders, including ONPHA, the LTB has undertaken a series of changes aimed at improving access to and modernizing its services. Read on to see the latest updates.
Improvements to operations
Enhanced Scheduling plan
The LTB announced that it would be implementing an enhanced scheduling plan, effective May 31. According to the LTB the plan aims to “prioritize mediation services, reduce delays and enhance the quality of dispute resolution services”.
Under the new plan, landlords and tenants with scheduled eviction hearings will have same-day access to a Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) for mediation before they move forward with a hearing. In an effort to move cases along more efficiently, the plan also includes:
- Moving away from MS Teams to conduct proceedings and implementing Zoom videoconference platform in its place
- Conducting multiple tenant case management hearings in one hearing block with several DROs.
- Holding full day hearings for L2 applications to allow landlords and tenants more time for mediation to resolve their disputes.
- Creating Zoom breakout rooms for parties to meet privately with legal counsel.
- Exploring the use of a ’virtual concierge’ to help take attendance and direct parties to breakout rooms.
- Resuming a two DRO team approach for Above Guideline Increase case management hearings.
To aid in the implementation of the Zoom platform for proceedings and support users, Tribunals Ontario has developed a Guide to Videoconferencing Proceedings, which includes a Zoom user guide shared with parties when they receive their Notice of Hearing (NOH).
Request to extend or shorten time
Updates to the Request to Extend or Shorten Time form and accompanying instructions were announced in June. The changes are intended to better explain the criteria adjudicators consider when deciding these requests to make them clearer to applicants.
Access the form and more information at the LTB’s Forms webpage.
Technology access terminals
Effective June 21, the LTB expanded the use of technology access terminals to hearing centres in Hamilton, London, and Ottawa after a successful pilot program at the Toronto hearing centre that began this past February.
The access terminals will allow parties with limited access to technology to participate in virtual proceedings. Parties who have requested an alternative hearing format must request use of the terminals, which will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
Tribunals Ontario is planning to roll out more access terminals across Ontario later this year.
New sign in and start times
Effective July 5, new sign in and start times came into effect for proceedings. LTB parties must sign into:
- L1/L9 hearings (rent arrears applications) one hour prior to the start time at 8:00 am for the morning hearing block (9:00 am start time) and 12:30 pm for the afternoon hearing block (1:00pm start time).
- L2 applications (non-rent arrears applications) at 8:00 am for the full-day hearing block (9:00 am start time)
- all other applications 15 minutes early. Scheduled start times are indicated in the Notice of Hearing (NOH).
The LTB specifies that “Priority will be given to parties who sign in early and have consent agreements or mediation requests. Mediators and adjudicators will be available for these types of matters prior to the hearing start time. All parties – the landlord, tenant, and/or their representative(s) – must sign in early to obtain priority access”.
Hearings and orders
Eviction enforcement resumed across Ontario June 3 after the stay-at-home order was lifted on June 2. The Court Enforcement Office (Sheriff) can now enforce Landlord and Tenant Board eviction orders everywhere in Ontario. We encourage ONPHA members to contact us at email@example.com for more information and support on eviction prevention.
Outside the scope of the pause on eviction enforcement (lifted on June 3), the LTB is required under Subsection 83(1) of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) to consider the circumstances of the eviction before granting the application, and may also rule to delay the enforcement of the eviction. Per the new Interpretation Guideline 22, the COVID-19 pandemic is a circumstance considered by the LTB when deciding whether to grant discretionary relief from eviction under section 83(1) of the RTA, together with the parties’ other relevant circumstances.
The interpretation guideline was created in response to stakeholder feedback on the need for standards and clarity regarding the circumstances of evictions during the pandemic. More information about this and other guidelines can be found on the LTB’s Rules, Practice Directions and Guidelines page.
Amendments to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act
As of June 3, a new Section 29 has been added to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, which makes it an offense to record or publish tribunal proceedings unless an exemption (which can include “unobtrusive recordings made by a party, representative or member of the media if authorized by the tribunal”) applies.
This provision is meant to “ensure the integrity and fairness” of Tribunals Ontario proceedings. The LTB stresses that its proceedings remain open to the public and that the new provision will not restrict that access.
Feedback and stakeholder engagement
In February and March 2021, in the context of recent operational changes, the LTB held a series of meetings with stakeholders (in which ONPHA took part) to get input on ways the user experience could be improved at the LTB, including technological improvements to services and supports for individuals in accessing services.
The LTB released a summary of these consultations this past May, and stated that they intend to use the feedback provided to inform future service improvements. Read the full summary of the stakeholder consultations.
Feedback needed on new online tool
On July 16, the LTB announced that it is looking for feedback on Navigate Tribunals Ontario. This online tool was launched on July 2 to provide landlords and tenants with information on LTB rules and processes as well as their legal rights and responsibilities. A new online case management system will be launching later this year.
The LTB asks that any feedback be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the link labelled ‘Tell us what’s missing’, visible at the bottom of each ‘Navigate Tribunals Ontario’ page.
ONPHA’s continued engagement
To continue providing the LTB with timely feedback that reflects community housing providers’ needs and experiences with the LTB and its many recent changes; we need to hear from you! Please send your input on LTB policies and procedures to email@example.com.
Check out our blog post from earlier this year to see some of the changes implemented by the LTB from November 2020 to February 2021.
Questions about LTB policies and procedures? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to hear from you, and to help!
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