Rental housing woes from a landlord point of view

An open letter to Premier Doug Ford and MPP Michael Mantha

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is open letter to Premier Doug Ford, Minister Steve Clark and MPP Michael Mantha and has been reprinted here at the author’s request.

I am sending you an invoice for the loss of rental income and damages that is currently owed to us by the persons who claim that they still reside in the residential unit. The people have not paid rent since last year; have removed all of their furniture and personal belongings; have told police and others that they have moved out; have had the hydro disconnected for arrears and they have met all of the criteria when determining abandonment. Yet, when we go to change the locks, haul away the garbage and begin to clean up, these people return to the property, become combative, assault our family member, thus resulting in the police being called to keep the peace. The police arrive and tell us, the landlords, that we are trespassing as we do not have an eviction order.

The Residential Tenancy Act clearly states that when a landlord determines that the tenants have abandoned the unit, an eviction order is not needed. A letter is sent from the landlord to the tenants and to the Landlord Tenant Board advising that the unit is deemed abandoned and that the landlord will exercise their rights as per the Residential Tenancy Act. We showed the police that we did all of that. The police ignored this and told us that we need an eviction order. We could not take possession of our property.

An application for an eviction order was filed in February of this year. Due to the stance taken by the police in ignoring the Abandonment Section of the Residential Tenancy Act and due to the lengthy wait time for a hearing for an eviction notice, we have not been able to realize any rental income while our house and property sit vacant, clearly neglected, in squalor conditions, with dog urine soaked hardwood floors rotting away, all the while advertising for squatters to move in.

We are seniors on a limited income and this Manitoulin Island property was intended to be our retirement home. Now, due to the loss of rental income and the costs incurred in trying to take back possession of the property, we are on the brink of having to default on our mortgage, claim bankruptcy and lose any financial gains from the selling of our current residential property so that we could move to our retirement home. 

All of this is due to the costs of waiting for a Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) tribunal hearing to get an eviction order that is not required by the Residential Tenancy Act in order to take back possession of the house and property that we own. Sounds ridiculous, eh?!

Many landlords in Ontario are in the same situation. A housing crisis is happening because thousands of landlords will either lose their property to lenders or sell to get out of the rental market or convert their rental property to short term rentals to avoid the dire situation of dealing with the LTB.

I am asking for a financial assistance program for small ownership landlords that will pay the mortgage and property taxes until such time as LTB orders are enforced.

I am also asking that the services of an LTB Resolution Dispute Officer be put into play prior to a hearing date and not just on the date of a hearing. Small Landlords simply cannot afford to hire a paralegal or lawyer to navigate through this process. Mediating a resolution to be presented to the adjudicator at the time of hearing for endorsement would certainly clear the backlog of hearing wait times.

And I am asking that the police be made aware of the landlord’s rights under the Abandonment section of the Residential Tenancy Act and let us possess what is rightfully ours.

Small ownership landlords (those with a few rental properties) are an essential part of the housing industry. We hear that changes are underway for the LTB Tribunal yet those changes will not be implemented until late next year!! We are at a breaking point – financially, mentally and emotionally. 

The LTB Tribunal system is broken and the housing crisis is growing larger. What will government do?

I await your response.

Sincerely,

Karen Gerrard

Hilliardton, Ontario