Tory disagrees with some Ford government changes to eviction rules
Published Wednesday, July 8, 2020 7:59AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:42PM EDT
Toronto Mayor John Tory says he disagrees with Ford government proposed changes to provincial residential tenancy law that in some cases would make it easier for landlords to evict tenants who fall behind in paying rent.
Two days after demonstrators decrying the law gathered around his Annex condo, with some pushing to break into the building, Tory says he read up on Bill 184 and does not like what he sees.
“There are some provisions in that bill that sort of say that if you had an agreement with a tenant or cause them to be pressured into signing one for the repayment of rent that happens to be past due, you can move more quickly to an eviction,” Tory told CP24 on Wednesday. “I just think we should stick to the system that has a proper hearing for tenants before they can be evicted.”
The new bill allows landlords to offer repayment agreements to tenants who are behind on rent.
Housing rights advocates say vulnerable tenants could accept unfavourable repayment agreements with their landlord out of fear of losing their home.
The Ministry says the new bill allows landlords and tenants to enter into “private” repayment plans, which Toronto housing lawyer Caryma Sa’d says means that parties can enter into enforceable agreements before they ever come into contact with the Landlord and Tenant Board, and services it provides, such as mediation or duty counsel advice which often helps educate the tenant about the rules.
But Ontario Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs officials speaking on background say a repayment plan could still have to be approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board if it was agreed upon there, and the Board has the power to reject unfair agreements suggested there.
Lawyers for tenants also say the new bill allows tenants to be evicted without a hearing in the event they fall behind on rent again after a repayment plan was agreed upon.
The Ministry says in that case, the landlord could apply to evict the tenant, but the tenant would still have 10 days to dispute the eviction order before the Board.
Sa’d said the new provisions place the onus on the tenant to dispute the looming eviction, rather than the landlord to make their case.
“I would only say that I believe that tenants should no matter what have the opportunity to have a hearing on anything that has to do with their eviction,” Tory said.
Residential and some commercial eviction are frozen for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but surveys and other scans have revealed thousands of Toronto tenants are currently behind in their rent.
Bill 184 also stiffens penalties for landlords who issue eviction notices in bad faith.