Like many of Ontario’s administrative tribunals, the Landlord and Tenant Board has a direct impact on the lives of many people. Its functions include arbitrating disputes between landlords and tenants, governing over rent increases and enforcing the Residential Tenancies Act. This Board stands out more than most of other tribunals because of the number of people it impacts.
For tenants, it is about where they live, how safe and habitable their housing is and how affordable the rent. For landlords, it’s often a major investment, a supplement to their retirement income and a part-time job. However, when disputes arise, this affects everything, from having to spend money, hire a legal representative or be forced to understand a maze of rules and regulations to follow. A crucial factor in dealing comfortably with these realities for both sides involves obtaining expert advice.
Browne and Associates Legal Services is proud to provide skilled and experienced representation in this field.
Who is a Tenant?
Many people believe that anybody that rents from somebody else is a tenant within the meaning of the Residential Tenancies Act. This is not true, as these rights and protections do not cover all landlord and tenant relationships.
In general, if somebody is renting a self-contained apartment or room in a ‘rooming house’ or an attached/detached dwelling, this is a tenant. However, the Residential Tenancies Act exempts many types of rental units. For example, the Act only covers residential tenancies. If you are a business owner renting space in an office building or industrial unit, you do not have rights under this Act. The Act also excludes certain types of social service accommodations, such as shelters or halfway houses. Hotel/motel units that are rented to seasonal or temporary guests, as well as most vacation facilities are exempt. If a tenant shares the kitchen and/or bathroom with the owner and/or his family, this arrangement is also exempt.
Who is a Landlord?
In most cases, a landlord is the person or company that owns the residential unit and/or complex that is rented to tenants. However, in some cases, somebody else can be deemed by the Board to be a landlord. For example, a large company that owns numerous properties may employ full-time property management staff. These people interact directly with tenants and ensure the property is cared for and maintained. In some cases, a tenant that rents a large home, but sublets to others might also be considered a ‘landlord’ in specific cases. Sometimes, there is more than one landlord to a property, such as the owner, a property manager or a superintendent that is employed full-time to manage a complex.
What are Some of the Issues That Come to the Board for Landlords and/or Tenants?
In most cases, landlords and tenants get along. This might surprise many of you that read this, especially if you are a tenant or a landlord who is facing a conflict with the other party. The Board handles complaints about tenant rights, conflicts with landlords, maintenance standards and illegal evictions for tenants and provides remedies. For landlords, the Board adjudicates above guideline rent increases, terminates tenancies for cause (unpaid rent, noise, willful or neglectful damage) and without cause (extensive renovations, own use, purchaser’s own use). In any case, only the Board can force an end to a tenancy. Landlords and tenants can still agree between themselves to end a tenancy, but the Board gets involved when the parties don’t agree. The Board can also make other orders, such as ordering repairs to be completed or for certain types of conduct to stop. A party can be fined for certain types of conduct, such as evicting a tenant for own use, but not actually moving in.
How Can Browne & Associates Legal Services Assist Landlords and Tenants?
Because the Board is an adjudicative tribunal and not a court, its members may not be fully cognizant of the law as it deals with specific situations. Members receive training and are mentored by legal staff that work for the Board, but mistakes are often made. Because Browne & Associates Legal Services knows the case law that the courts bind to Board decisions, we are able to make a stronger argument on your behalf. We are trained in the rules of procedure used by the Board and are not intimidated by the forms and acronyms used. We also utilize mediation skills to help arrive at appropriate legal solutions to resolve the conflict. We are also familiar with all the forms and can fill them out correctly. Many times, self-represented landlords or tenants have their applications dismissed for what may seem like minor reasons. With strong legal representation, Browne & Associates Legal Services can help prevent this from happening.