Relaying information from the Executive Chair of Tribunals Ontario, Joe Hoffer, Partner at Cohen Highley LLP Lawyers, said landlords should expect LTB hearings to resume in September once the backlog of pending eviction orders has cleared.
“Since the lifting of the Emergency Order will, in any event, be effective July 31, it means that enforcement of pending eviction orders—those obtained before March 17— will begin August 4, 2020,” he wrote in a recent bulletin. “At that time you may ask the Sheriff to enforce those orders currently in the queue, of which there are about 2,400 in the province right now.”
Additionally, Hoffer confirmed that Tribunals Ontario is expecting a surge in new applications after the Emergency Order is lifted and plans to have a full complement of adjudicators at the ready in September to handle the demand.
“We are advised they will be using Microsoft Teams for the hearings and mediations because of the break-out feature on that platform and there will be an emphasis going forward on video hearings rather than via phone,” he said. “There is a video-conference pilot project scheduled to begin in August (not sure exactly what that entails), but stay tuned.”
As Bill 184 nears the end of the legislative process, tenant groups have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the law, expressing concerns that it will make evictions easier for landlords while putting vulnerable tenants impacted by COVID-19 in jeopardy.
But according to Hoffer, this isn’t necessarily the case. “Currently, if you mediate a settlement, the settlement usually includes a s. 78 clause which allows a landlord to file a motion for an eviction and arrears order if the tenant fails to pay,” he said. “Under Bill 184, instead of waiting for hours for a mediator (followed by months’ long adjournments because the mediator was unable to get to your file) you will be able to work out a settlement with the tenant and include a s. 78 clause in the settlement. The file will then be shelved by the Board the same way a mediated settlement is.
Hoffer maintains that everything else about s.78 clauses remains the same, including the right of a tenant to move to “set aside” an Order when the tenant breaches the settlement.
“We often have recommended against mediation because professional tenants know they can use it as an interim step to further drag out proceedings (the set aside motion and hearing process can take months) and the same will hold true for settlements under Bill 184,” he said. “Bottom line, not much will change when Bill 184 becomes law but you might get your hearing day over with more quickly if you enter into settlement agreements.
Tribunals Ontario will be updating the settlement forms on the website soon to facilitate early resolution options (which is now being emphasized) and to align with the proposed changes to allow landlord/tenant settlements under Bill 184.