A man who bought a 40-acre farm in the Toronto area two years ago says he’s still waiting to move because a tenant refuses to leave – and says the body that should rule on landlord-tenant disputes has been too much. slow to act.
Sarbjit Sra, a real estate agent from nearby Brampton, bought the property in April 2020. In June of that year, he first went to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) requesting an eviction order based on the fact that he and his family wanted to live on the property, located about 60 kilometers northwest of Toronto. But the board did not rule in his favor until June 2021, and the order cannot be followed until the LTB issues it in writing.
Almost 10 months later, Sra is still waiting for that written order.
“I can’t sleep at night right now,” she said. “Right now, we are very frustrated.”
In the meantime, he says, he is facing expenses of about $ 10,000 per month to pay for mortgages, taxes, and utilities on the farm, which he purchased for $ 1.75 million. He says the tenant refuses to pay the rent or allow him to enter the property to inspect it for damage. Organizations representing landowners in Ontario say the situation underscores a growing problem: the LTB’s apparent inability to swiftly rule on these disputes and promptly evict problem tenants.
‘A bizarre situation’
Since that first request, an exasperated Sra has tried to speed things up by asking for two more eviction orders. In November 2020, she filed a claim on the grounds that the man had not paid the rent. This was denied, but the council ordered the tenant to repay the nearly $ 11,000 rent. She sra she says she hasn’t seen a dime.
So Sra then filed a third eviction order, also based on non-payment of rent, in June 2021. It was heard by the council last January and this time the LTB agreed – in writing – to evict the ‘tenant. But about a month ago, Sra was told that the order had been canceled as it was being reviewed at the tenant’s request.
Sra and the legal assistant representing him say that all could have been avoided if the council had issued a written order on his original application in a timely manner. An LTB spokesperson declined a request for an interview from CBC Toronto to explain the delay, but in the past the council has acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a backlog of cases.
“Due to the shift in staff resources, there will be a significant delay [in] processing and scheduling certain types of questions, “reads a statement on the council’s website.” Orders will be issued between 20 and 60 days depending on the type of question.
But Ajmer Singh Mandur, the legal assistant representing Sra, told CBC Toronto he has rarely seen an applicant wait that long for a written order.
“I can say in my practice for the past 11 years that I have never come across such a bizarre situation,” he said.
CBC Toronto requested an interview with the tenant through their legal representative. There has been no response so far.
The farm includes a barn, outbuildings and two adjacent units for rent: the farmhouse and a communicating apartment. Sra says the lease provides for a monthly rent of $ 1,140. The LTB calculated that the tenant has amassed an overdue rent of nearly $ 23,000.
“Homeowners who buy a home they want to live in shouldn’t be forced to wait up to a year or more … and they shouldn’t be harmed if tenants refuse to pay their rent,” said Rose Marie. vice president of an organization called Small Ownership Landlords of Ontario.
“Rental accommodation providers are starting to realize that there is something seriously wrong with the system: it is broken. We look forward to changes in the near future. Not next year, now.”
Marie says that from 2019 to 2020, there were 41,621 eviction applications addressed to tenants who refused to pay the rent, resulting in loss to owners of approximately $ 1.45 billion. The following year, due to the pandemic, the number of applications dropped to just 24,400, which translates into a loss of rental income of approximately $ 856 million, says Marie.
His organization asks the LTB to hold more timely and efficient hearings.
“We need changes with the speed of light,” he said.
“There is something broken inside that needs to be fixed,” Mandur said. “COVID has had its effects on these cases, but this has to do with planning; nothing to do with written decisions.”
On top of everything else, Sra says he also tried to inspect the property, after giving 24-hour notice, “six or seven times”, but was barred by the tenant.
“It’s a nightmare for me,” says Sra.
“I believe in our judicial system. I believe in the courts, I believe in the LTB and I hope that someday we will get hold of it.”