By Emily Crocco
The purpose of this article is to explain some of the changes to the procedures that landlords and tenants may face in pursuing or responding to applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Suspension of Limitation Periods
On March 20, 2020, the Ontario government issued an Emergency Order (O.Reg. 73/20) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Section 1 of the Order suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods relevant to tribunal proceedings. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020 and is slated to last 90 days (although this period could be extended).
As a result, and according to Tribunals Ontario’s website:
If current and / or new parties are not able to meet a timeline, Tribunals Ontario will allow them to do so at a later date. For example, if parties are not able to meet the timeline for submitting an application to a tribunal, they will be able to submit it at a later date.
What is the impact of the suspension of landlord or tenant applications? It stops the accumulation of time in which a party must file an application.
Consider the following. Subsection 29(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 states that Tenants may only apply to the Board within one year of the conduct giving rise to the applications under that section (for example, applications concerning maintenance issues or problems impacting their reasonable enjoyment of the rental unit).
Let’s see how the suspension of limitation periods could impact the deadline to file a Tenant application.
On March 1, 2020, a Tenant discovers mice in the basement of the rental unit and informs the Landlord of the problem. Ordinarily, on these facts, the Tenant would have until February 28, 2021 to file their maintenance application to the Board. As a result of the Emergency Order, however, it is reasonable to expect that the 90-day period from March 16, 2020, through June 15, 2020, will be excluded when calculating the one-year period. In this scenario, then, we would expect that the Tenant would actually have until June 1, 2021, to file their application about the problem with the mice dating from March 1, 2020.
Modified Board Procedures
Parties can apply to the Board using the Board’s website or by faxing or mailing an application to the nearest regional office.
Until the Board advises differently, however, applications cannot be filed at Landlord and Tenant Board offices. As of April 16, 2020, some Service Ontario offices are accepting applications in the following limited circumstances:
• Where the application represents an emergency situation;
• Where the applicant has no access to a computer;
• Where the applicant’s only option for payment is by cash, certified cheque, or money order; and
• Where there are other limitations to the applicant’s alternate filing options.
According to its website, with limited exceptions, eviction hearings before the Board are suspended. Hearings for eviction applications based on serious illegal acts or serious safety concerns, however, are still being scheduled.
Also still being scheduled are hearings where eviction is not being sought. For example, hearings are still being scheduled for Landlord applications for non-payment of rent where no eviction is requested (also called “L9 Applications”), Tenant applications, and applications concerning the Board’s jurisdiction (also called “A1 Applications”).
Eviction Orders: Issuance and Enforcement
The Board is not issuing eviction orders except for those relating to applications for eviction on the basis of alleged serious illegal acts or serious safety concerns. Eviction orders will not be enforced unless a party obtains leave of the Superior Court of Justice.
For Further Information and Advice
For legal advice on residential tenancy matters, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (613) 234-2500.