A man who bought a 40-hectare farm in the Toronto area two years ago says he is still waiting to move in because a tenant is refusing to leave – and he says landlord-tenant disputes But the governing body is too slow to act.
Sarabjit Sir, a real estate broker from nearby Brampton, bought the property in April 2020. He first went to Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) in June of that year seeking an eviction order on the grounds that he and his family wanted to. Live on property located about 60 kilometers northwest of Toronto. But the board did not give a ruling in his favor until June 2021 and cannot be acted upon until the LTB issues it in writing.
Almost 10 months later, Mr. is still waiting for that written order.
“I just can’t sleep at night,” he said. “Right now, we’re very disappointed.”
Meanwhile, he says, he is facing expenses of about $10,000 a month to pay mortgages, taxes and utilities on the farm, which he bought for $1.75 million. They say the tenant refused to pay rent or allow the property to be inspected for damage. Organizations representing landlords in Ontario say the situation underscores a growing problem — the LTB’s inability to quickly rule on these disputes and evict problem tenants promptly.
Since that first application, a desperate Sra has tried to speed things up by applying for two more eviction orders. In November of 2020, he filed a request on the grounds that the man was not paying his rent. This was denied but the board ordered the tenant to refund the rent for approximately $11,000. Sara says that she has not seen even a single penny of it.
So the SRA then filed for a third eviction order, that too on the ground of non-payment of rent, in June of 2021. Heard by the board last January, and this time, the LTB agreed – in writing – to evict the tenant. But about a month ago, the SRA was informed that the order had been quashed during its review at the request of the tenant.
Sara and the paralegals representing her say all this could have been avoided had the board only issued a written order on their original application in time. An LTB spokesperson declined CBC Toronto’s request for an interview to explain the delay, but in the past, the board has acknowledged that there has been a backlog of cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic. .
“Due to the transfer of staff resources, there will be substantial delays [in] Processing and scheduling certain types of applications,” reads a statement on the board’s website. “Orders will be issued between 20 and 60 days depending on the application type.”
But Ajmer Singh Mandur, a paralegal representing SERA, told CBC Toronto that he rarely saw an applicant wait so long for a written order.
“I can say in my practice for the last 11 years that I have never met such a strange situation,” he said.
CBC Toronto has requested an interview with the tenant through their legal representative. So far, there has been no response.
The farm consists of a barn, outbuilding and two adjacent rental units – the farmhouse and a connecting apartment. Sra says the lease calls for a monthly rent of $1,140. LTB calculates that the tenant has increased the previous rent by approximately $23,000.
“Property owners who buy a house they want to live in should not be made to wait a year or more … and with them if the tenants refuse to pay rent. There should be no favoritism,” said Rose Marie, vice president. of an organization called Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario.
“Rental housing providers are starting to wake up to the fact that something is seriously wrong with the system – it’s broken. We anticipate a change in the near future. Not next year, now.”
Mary says that from 2019 to 2020, there were 41,621 eviction applications aimed at tenants who were refusing to pay their rent — resulting in about $1.45 billion in damages to landlords. The following year, because of the pandemic, the number of applications dropped to just 24,400, which translates to a loss of rental income of about $856 million, Marie says.
His organization is calling on the LTB to conduct timed, more efficient hearings.
“We need to change with the speed of light,” she said.
“Something is broken inside that needs to be fixed,” said Mandur. “COVID has had an impact on these cases, but that has nothing to do with scheduling; nothing to do with writing decisions.”
On top of everything, Sra says he has tried to inspect the property “six or seven times,” after giving 24 hours’ notice, but has been stopped by the tenant.
“It’s a nightmare for me,” Sarah says.
“I believe in our judicial system. I believe in courts, I believe in LTB and hopefully one day we will get possession.”