Here’s an awful story, but one that we can all learn from…
A colleague of mine sold a condo to a buyer-client of his for investment. The client lived with his fiance in a condo that their parents owned.
This new purchase was to be their eventual home together, but for now, they would put a tenant in the unit and continue to live in mom-and-dad’s place.
My colleague put the unit on MLS and another agent, a reputable one, who works in the area, brought an offer to lease.
The tenant was qualified, on paper, and had references, pay stubs, and an employment letter.
The lease was signed, and the keys were handed over.
The first weekend thereafter, the owners of the condo were notified by the concierge that there was a raging party in the unit on Friday night. On Saturday night, another party was held, and the police were called.
The new condo owners did some research and eventually found their condo advertised online as a “smash pad” where people can rent the space for the night, have a party, smash the shit out of the condo, and simply walk away. I suppose this is a business model, but I digress.
The “tenants” continued to do this every weekend, and the new buyers took this to the Landlord & Tenant Board, which, as it always does, took months.
Guess what happened?
The tenants were paying rent on time. Case closed.
For all the talk in the media about evil landlords, unfair evictions, and the dangers of allowing leniency to property owners to do bad things to renters, there’s very seldom talk of what really goes on out there and just how impossible it is to get problem tenants out of units.
My wife is a social worker, and years ago she had to attend an eviction hearing at the LTB. A police officer testified about rampant drug use and constant sales of drugs out of the unit, and having been constantly called by neighbours. That eviction was denied, and the landlord was told to “try a little harder to understand the tenant, and perhaps some common ground can be found.”
This story frustrated the hell out of me.
And yes, my political views are slightly right of centre, and I’m privileged, but I’m also fearful of society’s never-ending race to the bottom, and constant lowering of the bar.
The Ontario Liberal government enacted legislation back in 2017 that prevented landlords from evicting tenants under false pretenses, which is a good thing. Back then, you could tell the tenants, “I’m moving into the unit, so you’re being evicted,” then put the unit up for sale, and suffer zero consequences. I know this first-hand, because I’ve seen clients do it. Today, there are real penalties for doing so, and the 2017 legislation spells out that “you or a family member must occupy the unit for twelve months.” These changes were made to protect tenants, and the changes were needed.
But the 2017 legislation also made it damn near impossible to evict a tenant for any reason. And landlords know it.
One of my clients owns a multi-plex, and she has an awful tenant on the top floor. The tenant has been torturing the other tenants in the property for months and months on end, and there’s photo and video evidence of such. He sits in the yard at 3am putting music on, full blast. He bangs pots and pans on the floor for hours in the middle of the night. He does things to try to make the tenants lives miserable, and we believe, to make them want to leave, so he can live in the building alone.
The tenant won’t answer emails or phone calls and won’t answer his door. He refuses to communicate with the landlords, or allow access to the property, even when work need to be done on his unit, or access needs to be given through his unit (ie. to fix the roof, the A/C, etc.)
This tenant is either an asshole, or has real mental health issues, we don’t know. But if it is the latter, is it the landlord’s responsibility to take care of him, and lose her investment in the process?
Armed with a dozen videos of the tenant acting in this manner, and sworn statements from the three other tenants in the property, do you think the Landlord & Tenant Board will allow an eviction?
I don’t. Sorry. Been there, done that.
Tenant advocates (and I know some are reading this right now) will make arguments, ranging from, “You must be mistaken as to his actual behaviour,” to “The landlord should investigate what his issues are,” right down to the one I fear the most: “If he does have mental health issues, evicting him will only make it worse.”
But if one person is causing problems for three other tenants, not to mention the landlords, and his behaviour is not acceptable, then isn’t removing him the solution?
All the rage this week was about “Bill 184,” which many are calling “controversial.”
Here is the full press release from the Ontario Government:
TORONTO ― The Ontario government is providing stability to Ontario’s rental market by increasing fines for unlawful evictions and reinforcing the necessity for landlords to explore repayment agreements before considering evictions. These measures are included in the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act which received Royal Assent today.
“We know tenants and landlords have struggled during COVID-19, and some households may be facing eviction due to unpaid rent during this crisis,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By making these changes we are trying to keep people in their homes, and at the same time, helping landlords receive payment through a mutual repayment agreement. It’s a better approach, especially during these difficult times.”
The legislation, which updates the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and Housing Services Act, 2011, will make it easier to resolve disputes while protecting tenants from unlawful evictions by:
- Requiring tenant compensation of one month’s rent for “no fault” evictions;
- Allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to 12 months’ rent in compensation for eviction notices issued in bad faith or where the landlord does not allow the tenant to move back in after renovations or repairs;
- Doubling the maximum fine amounts for offences under the Act to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation.
The changes will also modernize and streamline the dispute resolution processes at the Landlord and Tenant Board and encourage the use of alternatives to formal hearings to resolve certain issues and encourage negotiated settlements. The Landlord and Tenant Board must now consider whether a landlord tried to negotiate a repayment agreement with a tenant before it can issue an eviction order for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19. Certain disputes, such as those related to unpaid utility bills, will shift from Small Claims Court to the Board.
In addition, as part of the multi-year strategy to stabilize and grow Ontario’s community housing sector, the government has made changes to the Housing Services Act, 2011. These amendments will help maintain the existing community housing supply by giving housing providers with expiring operating agreements and mortgages ways to remain in the community housing system by sigining a new service agreement with service managers as well as encourage existing and new housing providers to offer community housing. Changes would also require service managers to have an access system for housing assistance beyond just rent-geared-to-income housing, and enable an outcomes-based approach to accountability by modernizing outdated service level requirements.
Ontario will consult with service managers and stakeholders on regulations to protect, repair and grow community housing supply, new access system rules, and ways to encourage new, innovative approaches.
These changes build on the commitments in the government’s Community Housing Renewal Strategy and the steps already taken to make life easier for tenants and housing providers – including simplifying rent-geared-to-income calculations, and removing rules that penalize people for working more hours or going back to school.
The response to this bill has been mixed, to say the least.
While very few people are going to stick their necks out and say that this is good in any way, there’s a lineup a mile-long of people ready to share their outrage.
We have no shortage of articles to pick from, but here’s one with a headline that leaves no confusion:
While this story is slanted in favour of tenants, it’s not an editorial – it’s a story about how tenants are fighting the bill.
Here’s a choice quote:
“The purpose of Bill 184 is to allow corporate landlords to more easily remove the greatest obstacle to increasing their already massive profits: working class tenants,” said Cole Webber of Parkdale Community Legal Services.
“It doesn’t take long for landlords to recover this money because they are allowed to increase rent on vacant units without limit after pushing tenants out of their homes.”
It’s actually very tough to find any coverage that is neutral on this story.
Even when the bill was first announced back in July, the media was only following the critics. Case in point:
This article offers a better layman explanation of the contents of Bill 184:
Under current law, all disputes over evictions and rent in arrears must be heard by the Landlord and Tenant Board, some of which result in rent repayment plans.
Bill 184 would allow for landlords to cut the board out of the equation and offer tenants their own repayment plan.
If a tenant refuses the landlord’s offer, they can still take their matter before the board, but some critics and legal analysts say it’s more likely that vulnerable tenants will sign onto shady repayment plans because they don’t know how to navigate the system.
Once again, the article contains quotes from critics, and describes why, and with what, tenants are upset.
But unlike many of the other articles out there, this one does contain a positive viewpoint:
The governing Progressive Conservatives have said the bill will help, not harm, tenants.
A spokeswoman for the minister of municipalities and housing said the proposed legislation would “strengthen protections for tenants and make it easier to resolve landlord and tenant disputes.”
The bill also increases maximum fines to discourage unlawful evictions, and allows the Landlord and Tenant Board to order up to a year’s rent in compensation to tenants for eviction notices issued in bad faith, Julie O’Driscoll said in an email.
“When rent is overdue, we want to encourage landlords and tenants to work together to come up with repayment agreements — rather than resorting to evictions,” she said.
Call that political rhetoric if you want to, that’s fine.
But I see a positive here – the idea that the government is encouraging landlords to work on repayment plans, rather than evictions. This is a good thing, right? On that, can we agree?
Now the irony in all of this is not lost on me.
The conversation among critics is just how unfair it would be if a landlord offered a repayment plan that the tenant refused, and the landlord then evicted the tenant.
But can’t we take a step back?
Since when is it unfair to seek to evict a tenant for not paying rent?
And I don’t mean during a pandemic, or after a tenant is a day late on paying the rent.
I mean that if a tenant, last November before the pandemic was upon us, had been two months behind on his or her rent, why couldn’t the landlord seek an eviction?
None of the conversation is about this. We’ve jumped ahead to “shady” landlords offering “unfair” repayment plans to tenants who are not paying rent, but we’ve skipped over any conversation about the responsibility, pre-pandemic of a tenant to adhere to a contract, pay for services, be accountable, and all things otherwise logical and acceptable.
Only, now, what? These aren’t logical and acceptable?
Society is changing, and so too, in my opinion, are the definitions of “logical” and “acceptable,” along with the idea that paying rent to live in somebody else’s home should come standard.
I guess I just don’t understand this movement:
Why don’t we live on the moon then? That’s equally as logical.
Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money.” Amen.
How in the WORLD do we “cancel mortgages?” This is coming from a sitting United States congressperson.
Tenants need to pay rent. Surely there is no debate about that? Because if that is the debate, then all hope is lost.
Once again, I feel as though the grey area has yet to be found.
On the one hand, we can’t have professional con-artists living in condos, trashing the place and throwing parties, while hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, who fought and worked hard to come up with the down payment for an investment property, are being told by the Landlord & Tenant Board that they have no grounds to evict the tenant.
On the other hand, we cannot allow illegal, immoral, and cruel evictions for people who are paying their rent on time.
I’m a capitalist, sure. But if the owner of a 20-unit building who is renting to twenty rent-paying tenants, decides that he or she wants to tear the building down, then he or she can’t just kick those tenants out on their ass. Society can’t work that way. Whether the discussion is about a reasonable timeline or a fee for inconveniencing the tenants, surely there’s a middle-ground here.
Bill 184 has passed, and is now law.
While some protestors are going to harass John Tory outside his condo, and while some news outlets feel the need to mention that his condo is worth $2.4 Million, as if that has anything to do with the provincial bill that was passed, these changes are moving forward.
But this won’t be the last we hear of the bill, its contents, and the application out there in the real world.
I fear that this week’s news is only the beginning…Back To Top Back To Comments