Ontario government to increase renter protections, address tribunal backlog, housing minister says

Ontario says it will invest millions to help deal with the backlog of tribunal cases between tenants and landlords while providing additional measures to protect renters against “renovictions.”

The announcements were made Wednesday in London, Ont., by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark and Attorney General Doug Downey.

Downey says the province will spend $6.5 million to hire 40 additional adjudicators to the Landlord and Tenant Board, more than doubling the current number of full-time staff.

Read more: Ontario could fail to meet 1.5 million homes target, 2023 budget suggests

After the pandemic exacerbated the lengthy backlog of cases at the tribunal, Downey says the investment will help the board operate more efficiently. Five support staff are also being hired to assist with the increased workload.

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“These investments will continue to modernize and streamline the way things are done,” said Downey.

While the portal to apply with the tribunal board has already opened, Downey says he does not want to commit to an exact date for when the backlog will be cleared.

“We are making progress, we’re just not making progress fast enough,” said Downey.

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The announcement of additional tribunal employees to deal with rental issues comes after the province softened its stance on the goal of 1.5 million homes built by 2031 due to inflation and interest rates increasing.

Clark says the province will provide rules for landlords who kick out renters to renovate and then rent the unit at a higher price.

If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant to renovate, the landlord must provide a report from a qualified person stating the unit must be vacant for the renovation to occur. Further, if the tenant wishes to resume living in the unit, they must be provided updates on the renovations in writing and given a 60-day grace period to return.

Read more: Doug Ford promises 1.5 million homes over 10 years during stop in London, Ont.

If the landlord intends to raise the unit’s price following the renovation, the tenant has either two years after moving out or six months after renovations are complete (whichever is longer) to file with the Landlord and Tenant Board for a remedy.

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“There’s this ambiguity in what constitutes a reasonable amount of time for a landlord to move in for their own use and some of the measures in terms of renovation I think provide that clarity,” said Clark.

Other measures proposed on Wednesday include doubling the maximum fines for offences to individuals and corporations who do not follow the law and enhancing tenants’ rights to install air conditioning in their units.

While critics have called for rent control in the province, the government has so far not committed to such measures.

London Mayor Josh Morgan, who was on hand in the east end of the city for the announcement, says city council has looked forward to measures like the proposed changes.

“The injection of personnel at the Landlord and Tenant Board to try to process things faster is a phenomenal change that will mean real change for Londoners who need to go through that process,” said Morgan.

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