May 1, 2020
Ontario’s Eviction Moratorium During COVID-19 – What Landlords Need to Know
The landlord-tenant relationship will once again be impacted as May 1 is the second monthly rent due date for tenants since the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Ontarians are aware that residential tenants cannot be evicted from their units during the pandemic. So what steps can landlords take during these unprecedented times?
Since March 19, the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “LTB”), the tribunal responsible for resolving disputes between residential landlords and tenants in Ontario, announced the suspension of eviction orders and all hearings related to eviction applications unless the matter relates to an urgent issue such as an illegal act or a serious impairment of safety (the “Eviction Moratorium”). This includes eviction hearings previously scheduled during the Eviction Moratorium.
All in-person hearings at the LTB are suspended until further notice. However, if you receive or have received a “Notice of Telephone Hearing” from the LTB for the purpose of a Case Management Hearing, you are still required to call-in to deal with matters related to that application.
Landlords Can Still Give Tenants an Eviction Notice
During the Eviction Moratorium, landlords cannot evict tenants except for urgent disputes, such as those involving illegal acts or serious safety concerns. The issue of urgency was recently considered by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Morguard Corporation v. Corredor. There, the landlord was granted an eviction order by the LTB based on its uncontested evidence that the tenant committed a sexual assault in the residential complex. In light of the Eviction Moratorium, the landlord wished to enforce the eviction order. The Superior Court did not determine whether the eviction may proceed, but it did conclude that this was an urgent matter and scheduled a hearing one week later.
Despite the Eviction Moratorium, landlords can give tenants an eviction notice (i.e. Notice for Non-payment of Rent) and, if the tenant does not remedy the situation, the landlord can subsequently file the appropriate eviction application (i.e. Form L1 Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent) either via e-file or by mailing or faxing the application to their local LTB regional office. As indicated by the LTB’s statements, it will not schedule a hearing date for eviction applications.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 landlords cannot charge fees or penalties for late rent payments nor can landlords change the locks. Landlords are encouraged to work with tenants during these unprecedented times to establish fair arrangements to keep tenants in their homes, including deferring rent or making other payment arrangements.
Landlords Can Increase Rent Pursuant to the Rent Increase Guidelines
The Ontario government has not made any announcements about a rent freeze during the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords can increase rent for their residential tenants according to the rent increase guideline and by completing the required forms for landlords.
Both landlords and tenants should make themselves aware of their respective rights during the Eviction Moratorium.