LTB hearings

Restoring in-person hearings at the LTB

Thursday, February 8, 2024

For years, the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) has faced criticism for not effectively serving the needs of landlords and tenants seeking a fair resolution to their disputes, and the switch to online hearings has seemingly done more harm than good. As one of the busiest tribunals in Ontario’s administrative justice system, the LTB receives approximately 80,000 applications a year. But, according to an Ontario Ombudsman’s Report issued in May 2023, the Board has since “spiraled into a moribund state” and is unable to contend with the increasing backlog of applications awaiting resolution.

As apart of the LTB’s 2020 “digital first” strategy to modernize the sluggish process, most hearings have been scheduled through Zoom. The Ombudsman found that this move to online hearings has created an imbalance between landlords and tenants facing barriers such as low-incomes, disabilities, and digital limitations. The report also found that the removal of in-person services and other operational decisions made in 2020 increased the backlog of cases from 22,803 to 53,057 by March 2023.

As such, City Council has requested the Government of Ontario take the following mitigation steps:

  1. Make in-person hearings the default format while providing the choice of digital or virtual hearings if both parties agree and clearly understand the process;
  2. Develop clear guidelines that are easily accessible that outline how to request a change in format for a hearing or identify challenges during a virtual hearing;
  3. Consult with legal clinics, tenant advocate groups, people with lived experience and landlords in advance of making digital hearings an option to ensure challenges that surfaced using the digital method are addressed; and
  4. Restore and enhance funding for legal aid clinics so that tenants have the support required to participate meaningfully and with support if needed in Landlord and Tenant Board proceedings.

“The exclusively digital format has caused delayed hearing times for tenants and landlords and amplified inaccessibility issues for tenants including for: people living with poverty who do not have sufficient broadband or devices to participate; people who do not speak French or English; survivors of intimate partner violence where home is not a safe space to conduct a hearing; and individuals with disability, literacy, or numeracy challenges,” the Ombudsman wrote.

For the full list of recommendations, click here: Agenda Item History – 2024.MM14.2 ( 

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