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Letter to Minister of Housing - The Honourable Chris Ballard

May 13th, 2017The Honourable Chris BallardMinister of Municipal Affairs and Housing777 Bay St., 17th FloorToronto, ON M5G 2C8Dear Minister:I am writing you as a small landlord  in Ontario, looking to you for assistance in navigating Ontario’s difficult and complicated residential tenancy laws.  The playing field is about to become even more unbalanced following the government's April 20th announcement.The quasi-judicial agency overseeing rental housing in Ontario, the Landlord and Tenant Board (‘LTB’), is broken.  The heavy load at the provincial Board combined with the automatic right of appeal of a Board decision to the courts routinely delays justice.  The inconsisten...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 13 May 2017 | 10:13 am

Wynne's Solutions for Rental Housing are Puzzling and Harmful

Anything this government touches turns bad, and Wynne’s announcements regarding rental policy changes is no exception.  A return to full rent control will bring American-style slums to Toronto.  New rentals won't be built, and that includes purpose-built rentals, and condos that are 50% filled with rentals.  Why would an investor risk being subject to rent control when they have no control of condo common area maintenance fees and assessments?I'm reading mixed messages in the news, but it appears that the post-1991 buildings will be subject to the same rental guideline as older rental buildings, and that the legislation will be retroactive to today, April 20th.  That mean...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 20 Apr 2017 | 6:48 pm

Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act Needs Modernizing

Ontario’s residential landlord and tenant legislation is badly outdated and needs a complete re-write.  The basic framework of the Residential Tenancies Act and its immediate predecessor the Tenant Protection Act is almost 20 years old, despite some minor, political amendments made in 2007.  A lot has changed since then.  Housing prices in Ontario’s major metropolis have skyrocketed.  Airbnb has added a new type of residential occupation not anticipated by the legislation.  Nor was there any clue that condos would become the new rentalswhen the Tenant Protection Act was being debated back in 1997.The system is grinding to a halt.  The heavy load at the province’...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 16 Mar 2017 | 12:00 pm

Residential Tenancies Act Needs Changing to Avert Affordable Housing Crisis

While I loved the musical Les Miserables, the song Master of the House always struck me as backward as the cast sings “Everybody loves a landlord. Everybody's bosom friend.”  From my perch, it seems that everyone despises landlords and wants to make them responsible for government’s shortcomings and many of society's problems.Decades ago residential landlord and tenant law was contractual, that is, people signed lease agreements and lived by them.  But starting in the 1970’s in Ontario, the contractualization of residential tenancies has given way to a strict, complicated and onerous statutory model.You can’t open the papers without reading about how government laments th...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 5 Oct 2016 | 9:38 am

The Airbnb Problem is Connected to Our Awful Tenancy Laws

I read a story in the Toronto Star yesterday about the problem of Airbnb cutting into traditional rentals.  The problem isn’t simple and cuts across complex issues starting with our low interest rates, booming real estate market, and the emergence of the new sharing economy.  But before we start blaming Airbnb for cannibalizing the traditional rental market, we should look at the elephant in the room that is causing many investors to go the Airbnb route.  The problem is that the traditional rental model, governed in Ontario by the Residential Tenancies Act, is broken.  Renting your unit short-term as an Airbnb is exempt from provincial landlord and tenant legislation...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 23 Sep 2016 | 11:39 am

Rent Deposits Confuse Most Small Ontario Landlords

Almost every time I am retained by a new small landlord, there is confusion about rent increases and last month rent deposits.  I will leave rent increases for another day, but let me describe how the deposit system is supposed to work, and then how it's being handled by many small landlords.WHAT THE LAW SAYS ABOUT RENT DEPOSITS Rent deposits are permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act.  Damage deposits are not.  Last month's rent deposits (LMRD) can be equal to one month's rent, but not more.  They are negotiated prior to entering the tenancy, and paid prior to move-in.Landlords are required to pay interest on the last month's rent deposit at the same percentage ra...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 28 Dec 2015 | 5:19 pm

LOTS OF ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES UNDERWAY AT THE LANDLORD AND TENANT BOARD

Lots of news at the LTB these last few weeks.  Add in the new case management hearings, changes to hearing scheduling and the addition of Cooperatives under the LTB's umbrella, the agency has had a busy year.  Here's a summary of a few of the newest changes.E-FILINGE-filing is being tested on a limited basis for L1, L2, T2 and T6 applications. It's about time, they were talking about it when I was a Member of the LTB in 2004. I will believe it when I see it.  The Board plans to make e-filing available to all users across the province by this summer.  Together, L1, L2, T2 and T6 account for 80% of all applications received at the LTB. UPDATED FORMSAs you know, the...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 2 Apr 2015 | 4:53 pm

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT'S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET ABOUT RENT INCREASES...FINALLY REVEALED!

Section 6(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act is the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about.  The tenant advocacy side keeps it quiet, as it would hurt their constituency if landlords became aware of it.  Many landlords don't know it exists, and if they did, rents would be jacked way up.Landlords who know about the Section keep it quiet, as they don't want the newspapers to pick up on a story about an “egregious abuse” of the exemption.  Those in the know are happy to have it for themselves.  They've almost lost it before.The exemption from the annual rent guideline increase first appeared in the Tenant Protection Act, 1998 (the “TPA”), and survived when the ...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 28 Mar 2015 | 6:47 pm

What if Ontario's Banks were Treated Like Ontario's Residential Landlords?

Business owners should have to assume risk.  After all, they are in the business of making a return on their investment better than they might have if they had taken no risk.But what if government creates a statutory regime that is so unfair and unbalanced, that the risk becomes excessive?  That's what's happened with landlord and tenant regulation in Ontario.  The argument against my hypothesis is that nobody twists a landlord's arm to go into the business.  While that is true (and I often remind clients of that fact), it's also true that there is too little education for prospective landlords about their rights and obligations, and a lot of pressure from the Real Estate...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 20 Dec 2014 | 12:29 pm

Landlord and Tenant Board is in Crisis Mode Once Again

The Landlord and Tenant Board is starting to drift into crisis mode again, sort of like the old FSP (now called the Family Responsibility Office) did in the early 90's when the newspapers and opposition parties attacked the government of the day, pointing out the unfairness, delays and inefficiencies. In both cases, the governments changed the name of the agency, hoping the problems would go away.The backlogs for hearings at the Board has become intolerable. Toronto South is booking into March for return dates. Toronto North is six weeks. The LTB is reacting by putting super-blocks in several locations in the GTA (instead of morning and afternoon blocks) to try to make better use...

Read more: A Paralegal's Take on Everyday Legal Issues in Ontario | 20 Dec 2014 | 10:29 am