- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Starting on August 4, eviction orders will be enforced in Ontario as the Order from the Chief Justice from March 19, 2020, placing a moratorium on residential evictions, ended on July 31.  Although pandemic-related closures, lay-offs and reduced work hours continue for many businesses, and CERB is scheduled to end August 30th,  there is still no plan for housing security for most tenants.

The process for evictions through the Landlord and Tenant Board is slowly starting to resume through phone hearings.  Fast- tracked evictions will be allowed in some circumstances under the ironically named “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020” amending the Residential Tenancies Act.

Evictions can now be fast tracked at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) if a tenant agrees to a repayment plan with their landlord but then misses a payment. It is very important for tenants to get legal advice before agreeing to repayment plans because not following the terms of a plan could lead the landlord to get an eviction order without a hearing at the LTB. If a tenant receives an eviction order in these circumstances, they have only 10 days to request a hearing.

Tenants facing eviction for rent owing must now provide written notice to their landlord if they want to raise various issues at the eviction hearing including issues related to repair problems in their units. Before the changes were made to the law, tenants could automatically raise these issues.

If a tenant does not challenge an illegal rent increase within 12 months, the new rent now becomes legal and cannot be disputed.

Landlords now have 12 months to bring former tenants to the LTB for issues such as rent owing. Before the changes were made to the law, landlords had to take former tenants to Small Claims Court. As Small Claims Court has much stricter rules than the LTB to ensure that tenants are made aware of hearings, there is concern that former tenants will not learn of the hearings at the LTB.

The Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic is where most tenants would find necessary legal advice in these situations, but pending decreases in funding will have a devastating impact on legal aid and as a result, further reduce services offered in our community. 

In July, the government of Ontario passed a new Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 as part of Bill 161. Excactly how this will impact our local Legal Clinic is unknown as they are now required to renegotiate our funding agreements.

Funding for Legal Aid has already been negatively impacted by Covid 19. Legal Aid Ontario receives millions of dollars from the Law Foundation of Ontario - last year, it was $91 Million. This money comes from interest on lawyers’ trust accounts and the amount varies from year to year depending on the economic activity and the interest rate in our society. Due to Covid, the interest rate has dropped significantly and Legal Aid Ontario is anticipating a decrease of funding from the Law Foundation of between $60-70 Million for this year.

This will be in addition to the legislative changes and  funding cuts of 30% the Ontario government made last summer to Legal Aid.

"We are hoping that the Federal government will assist with one time investment in funding to offset the Law Foundation revenues as part of the Covid 19 relief, but we do not have this commitment yet." - Seana Moorhead,  Executive Director, Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic.

 source: email conversation with Seana Moorhead,  Executive Director, Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic




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