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Does Ontario Need Harsher Tenant Laws For Renters?

If you’re sneaky about it, you could go months without having to pay rent in Ontario. How does one achieve this magical luxury that is free rent?

Well, it isn’t exactly the path most upstanding citizens would take, but it’s definitely effective. Simply exploit some legal-loopholes and you can escape rent payments to a landlord for weeks on end, and some tenants are doing just that.

Case in point: James Regan, a Toronto man in his early sixties who has continuously evaded rent payments to his understandably-angered landlords. This time around, Regan refuses to pay rent because of a broken air conditioner and parking space access.

Robin Ennis is the unlucky landlord currently dealing with Regan, reports the CBC, has already tried to evict Regan from his unit. But given the current structure of Ontario tenant-laws, an eviction is a very slow process when dealing with a wily tenant.

Regan, you see, is quite aware that any eviction ordered by Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) can be sent for an appeal to the Ontario Supreme Court. All tenants are entirely allowed to make an appeal, only for the cost of $180.

The loophole is that the appeal process can take months, a period of time where the tenant is legally entitled to stay in the residence owned by the landlord, and in this case, withhold rent, too.

Regan is employing this technique with Ennis right now, and he did the exact same thing in his last apartment. Signing up for a unit at $3,200/month, Regan refused to pay rent, and when an eviction notice came, Regan appealed to the Supreme Court and didn’t have to leave the apartment for eight months after that.

While Regan is completely to blame for his past and current landlord’s frustration and anger, Harry Fine, who was once an adjudicator for the LTB, believes Ontario’s rules on rentals is the core problem.

Fine told the CBC that the province’s Residential Tenancies Act is completely “unbalanced,” as tenants are far better protected than landlords. And in the case of James Regan, perhaps tenants are protected a little too well.

Fine also believes some sort of screening process or stricter control over who has the ability to file an appeal after an eviction notice may ameliorate the issue.

Any changes to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act will have to wait a while, though, as the provincial government will only discuss any potential changes this coming fall. Any proposed changes will come out of a series of consultations organized by the provincial government in regards to tenant-landlord laws.

Featured image courtesy of: Charleston’s TheDigitel

Michael D'Alimonte

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