060501_cr_stsn_11By Chris Seepe

Landlords may be surprised and even angry to learn that the Ontario government operates an agency that primarily targets landlords who allegedly breach the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), generally responding within 24 hours of a tenant filing a complaint. This is in stark contrast to the three to 12 months that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) generally takes through its onerous processes and forms to resolve landlord complaints.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) website states, “There are 40 core offences listed in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 that apply to residential tenancies.” The agency’s website lists 43.

A review of the listed rights of the landlord and the tenant show that the act contains 34 provisions that specifically benefit tenants (against landlords) and eight that balance the rights of the landlord and tenant (such as changing locks). How many uniquely benefit landlords? Zero.

Particularly offensive is that politicians included in that act a provision that allows canvassing politicians or their agents to solicit votes on a landlord’s property.

What was a jaw-dropping shock to learn was that the act doesn’t even provide the landlord with the fundamental right of entitlement to collect rent.

With the news regularly reporting critical rental housing shortages in Ontario, one would think that government wisdom (is that an oxymoron?) would prevail and seek ways to encourage the private sector to build more purpose-built rental housing. If not that, then what? More condos? Rental condos are too expensive for many tenants and that still requires landlords willing to invest under oppressive legislation. Government housing? Who pays for that? Everyone – including tenants.



After readjusting your jaw, get ready for the uppercut. The Ontario Government, via MMAH, established the 18-person Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU), a mostly redundant agency to the LTB whose mandate is to inform landlords and tenants about their alleged breaches of the RTA. They proactively telephone or try to make other contact with the offender – for free – and pride themselves on resolving most complaints within 24 hours.

However, unlike the LTB, which spends literally two-thirds of its operational hours and its taxpayers-financed budget adjudicating non-payment of rent (about 90 per cent of all filed LTB complaints are from landlords, of which about 75 per cent are for non-payment of rent), about 85 per cent of the IEU’s complaints are from tenants. Of 20,000 to 25,000 phone calls received annually by the IEU, about 2,500 (10 per cent) become cases. Thirty-eight per cent are against landlords withholding vital services, 21 per cent against landlords changing locks, 10 per cent against landlords failing to provide rent receipts and seven per cent against landlords allegedly entering a tenant’s premise illegally. The remaining complaints comprise six per cent against tenants who refuse landlords entry after proper notice, three per cent against tenants changing locks and 15 per cent for all other offences. Seventy-six per cent of all IEU cases target the landlord, perhaps not surprising since 79 per cent of listed RTA offences are specifically in favour of tenants.

One could reasonably speculate that the majority of landlord offences reported to the IEU were caused by, what else, tenants not paying their rent. IEU prosecuted about 60 cases with a 100-per-cent success rate in court. The breakdown of landlord versus tenant was not available but reasonable speculation would suggest that most cases were against legitimately outraged landlords who weren’t protected by their government from the abuses foisted upon them by unbalanced tenant legislation.

Some tenants assuredly have legitimate complaints and slumlords do exist. But slumlords are the exception, not the norm. Yet heavy tenant-biased legislation treats all landlords at the lowest common denominator.

Why are tenants afforded a FREE 24-hour IEU response service while landlords suffer a brutal and cripplingly expensive 2,160-  to 8,760-hour LTB response service? Why is the government spending taxpayers’ funds duplicating services that arguably should be consolidated within the Ministry of the Attorney General? Why are landlords not legislatively entitled to collect rent for the vital housing service they provide? Why are rent rates (income) capped but legitimate operating and capital cost expenses are not permitted to be recovered? (No other business or industry in Canada is hampered in this way.)

How can the RTA legislatively require a landlord to provide electricity consumption information to a tenant while privacy legislation prevents a landlord from obtaining that required information from utility suppliers? Why can a fire department fine an innocent landlord for a fire code offence committed by a tenant? Why can a municipality add a utility bill not paid by a tenant on to a landlord’s realty tax bill? Why is there no financial deterrent against careless and malicious tenants trashing a property?

Christopher_Seepe_543x584The above “why” list is much longer than this space allowed but landlords must start speaking up and asking their elected officials why there are two different judicial, legislative and even bureaucratic standards for tenants and landlords within a democratic nation that is supposed to guarantee equal rights and treatment before the law.

Chris Seepe is a commercial real estate broker and broker of record at Aztech Realty in Toronto, specializing in income-generating and multi-residential investment properties, retail plazas, science and technology related specialty uses and tenant mandates. (416) 525-1558 Email [email protected]; website: www.aztechrealty.com.

 

Chris Seepe is a published writer and author, ‘landlording’ course instructor, president of the Landlords Association of Durham, and a commercial real estate broker of record at Aztech Realty in Toronto, specializing in income-generating and multi-residential investment properties. Call (416) 525-1558, send him an email, or visit his website.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Can a Tenant get evicted for wanting things in lease? ….. yard and not parking lot, kempt yard, screens in good repair, visitors using facilities (laundry, yard for parking) and not allowing tenants to have adequate usage, etc? In less than two years my landlord went from wanting to be a good one to an abusive, cruel, threatening, neglectful, changing the rules without proper notification, dogging me on social media, etc

  2. Eddie, I agree in general that the media, like politicians, generally favour the largest readership/voting base but you should keep in mind that REM and this online forum are an important part of the media for the CORE industry. It reaches a huge percentage of realtors and interested parties, and it was willing to publish these kinds of controversial stories and issues. I know firsthand of a few other industry publications that don’t.

  3. The bunch of leftist and self-preoccupied politicians couldn’t care less because the media will not cover this issue or cover it in a negative light. The trend will continue until people won’t be able to afford to pay rent – old buildings are being refurbished and rates are going up by leaps and bounds. After all, there is literally no vacancy in major city centres. Now, once again due to negative media coverage and a bunch of self-righteous idiots on social media, the government is now looking to amend the act to disallow the rental increase guidelines on properties built after 1997. If the law comes to fruition, there goes the condo market and the little bit of apartment construction that started over the past couple of years. You just wait and see! We live in a society reminiscent of the Soviet Union – big brother is watching and telling you what to do.

  4. Getting the province to address these issues will fall on deaf ears unless we get a unified front to get their attention. Perhaps this task would be a good one for our Real Estate Boards, and OREA to get involved in. They indirectly have a moral obligation to our landlord clients. Unfair treatment should be high on their priority list.

  5. “However, unlike the LTB, which spends literally two-thirds of its operational hours and its taxpayers-financed budget adjudicating non-payment of rent (about 90 per cent of all filed LTB complaints are from landlords, of which about 75 per cent are for non-payment of rent), about 85 per cent of the IEU’s complaints are from tenants”
    Perhaps something could be done to save tax paying public money by addressing “non-payment of rent” issue in a totally different format.

  6. “How can the RTA legislatively require a landlord to provide electricity consumption information to a tenant while privacy legislation prevents a landlord from obtaining that required information from utility suppliers? Why can a fire department fine an innocent landlord for a fire code offence committed by a tenant? Why can a municipality add a utility bill not paid by a tenant on to a landlord’s realty tax bill? Why is there no financial deterrent against careless and malicious tenants trashing a property?”
    The above are great observations and well written, and hopefully will be reviewed carefully by the decision makers.
    Sincerely,
    Rita Giglione, Broker
    Royal LePage Exceptional Real Estate Services., Brokerage
    http://www.ritagiglione.com

    • The civil service, or silly service, as the case may be, is populated with legions of unionized, thus socialistic-minded, types who advise the here-today-gone-tomorrow elected MPPs. These MPPs (usually NDP and Liberal) know where the majority of their votes emanate from, and it is not from the small minority of business people/landlords. I wonder where the vast majority of tenants would hang their hats if it were not for landlords?
      I endured a brief stint as a landlord whilst renting out our house in Oshawa, Ontario after having moved to a new home north of Peterborough, Ontario. The tenant soon moved in most of his relatives from Newfoundland (sixteen) after having signed an agreement that there would only be his wife, their yet-to-be-born child and himself living in the house. Even though he was charging ‘his’ tenants rent, ‘his’ rent was always late. I had to chase him down month after month. The actual payment dates stretched out further and further, yet the household bills (taxes, insurance, maintenance issues etc.) needed to be dealt with promptly…by me of course. My professional tenants had regular drunken parties which the neighbours hated. I could not get rid of them via any means whatsoever related with the City of Oshawa dictums nor with the then Ontario Landlords’ and Tenants’ Act bureaucrats. I finally had to serve my nightmare asshole with a notice that I was moving back to the City and needed my house back, giving them 60 days to vacate. This was (currently still is) the only way to get rid of these losers. The guy said he would wait around the corner to see if I was actually going to move in, and if I didn’t he would go to the government and have me charged. Fortunately, my son-in-law was an area OPP officer. I told this loser that the police would regularly be waiting around the corner to arrest him for drunk driving (as he was wont to continually do) the very next time he did so. He moved out without another threat or whimper and left the house spotlessly clean. He would have needed a separate dumpster for all of the empty whiskey bottles
      Moral: Know how to deal with loser tenants, those “professional” tenants who know all of the rules and how to manipulate them. Qualify the hell out of prospects ‘before’ granting them almost untouchable use (thanks to the socialist bureaucrats) of ‘your’ hard-earned property. I was lucky. I had an ace up my sleeve. Most landlords don’t.
      No, I did not move into the house. We immediately sold it to my son-in-law. I will never rent out any property that I might own again. Tough nuggies professional tenant losers and over-paid pencil-pushing paper-shuffling bureaucrats. Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.

  7. In my experience, the most IMPORTANT action a landlord must do is to THROUGHLY qualify the prospective applicants before taking them on as tenants.
    Must get police check
    Must contact their Employers
    Must contact at least 2 references
    Must get a credit check
    ….and more.
    All this and more with the prospective applicants permission. Landlords should spend 90% of their time on due diligence and 10% on the actual lease agreement.
    Sincerely,
    Rita Giglione, Broker
    Royal LePage Exceptional Real Estate Services, Brokerage
    http://www.ritagiglione.com

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