A Toronto couple with a rental property in Oshawa, Ont., says the last seven months have been a nightmare.
Myron Madey and Kevin Seguin say the process of evicting a tenant who stopped paying rent took longer than it should have because of delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board.
A notice on the board’s website reads: “Over past months, parties have experienced service delays at the Landlord and Tenant Board,” and “The LTB continues to work with the government to improve its services.”
But Madey and Seguin, who say they are out close to $30,000 between the rent they are owed, legal fees and cleaning the home, say that’s not enough.
“It took too long,” Madey said, adding that during the lengthy process, the tenant fled.
“It’s been horrible … just a nightmare for us,” he added.
It’s an issue affecting many landlords in the GTA, Madey’s and Seguin’s lawyer says — tenants skipping out on rent and getting away with it, partly because the Landlord and Tenant Board can’t deal with the cases fast enough.
Madey says they were patient with the woman living in the home and that she was okay for the first few months, but started to fall seriously behind in rent payments.
The couple filed for an order to terminate the tenancy and evict the woman in December of 2018 and say they didn’t have a hearing until April, and a decision from the board until late May.
By the time Madey and Seguin got the order stating the tenant had to pay them the amount of $12,118.76, she was gone.
They say left behind was a home with urine on the floors, damaged walls and bottles everywhere. But what upset the couple most was a hateful message scrawled across the wall targeting their sexual orientation.
“I had an anxiety attack,” Madey said.
“I was so distraught. I couldn’t believe it. I’m scared when someone writes something like that.”
Overall, the couple says they wish they could’ve gone through the process of evicting the tenant faster, and they still haven’t received any of the money they’re owed.
By the time the place is cleaned and ready to go back on the market, 10 months will have passed without them collecting any rent for the property.
“When the tribunal is inefficient it hurts people who are paying taxes and providing a home for people to live in,” Seguin said.
A systematic problem
Jordan Donich, a lawyer who represented the couple says by the time the couple came to him, the situation was already bad. But his concerns span beyond this case.
“Why would you take a chance of supplying the market with affordable housing, or any type of housing if it means you have to wait half a year to get rid of a tenant, and you never recover your money?” Donich said.
The lawyer says in Madey’s and Seguin’s case, he was surprised that it took three months for them to get a hearing date, and even though they have an order, they haven’t really won.
“What’s a win is getting your money back,” he said.
“Unfortunately, just getting the judgment is half the way, and in this case almost half a year later.”
Donich says tenants like theirs often know how to play the system. And if they don’t care about having bad credit, it can be challenging to recover the money they’re owed without pursing further legal action.
“This is a systemic problem and probably only experienced landlords or corporations know this.”
Landlord and Tenant Board under review
The Landlord and Tenant Board’s website states a review is being conducted of all tribunals, including the LTB, to identify areas for improvement and make services more streamlined, cost-effective and efficient.
The Ministry of the Attorney General is conducting the review.
“As a first step in this review, effective Jan. 1, 2019, the government combined the three former tribunal clusters accountable to the Ministry of the Attorney General into a single cluster called Tribunals Ontario,” a spokesman for the ministry said in a written statement to CBC News.
The ministry says combining the tribunals is not what’s causing the delays, however it is working on addressing resources the Landlord and Tenant Board needs to adjudicate cases. In the meantime, tribunals are processing applications and hearing cases in the usual manner.
Madey says they’ll give one more renter a shot, before considering selling the property. But so far they haven’t had much luck with their last two tenants.
“We’re understanding, we’re kind, we’re gentle, and then they turned against us.”