Appearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) can be a stressful experience for both tenants and landlords. Tenants may be forced to deal with the prospect of losing their current accommodations, or otherwise lose an opportunity to have a problem with their rental unit rectified. For Landlords, failure to obtain an eviction order can have serious financial consequences which may be exacerbated by delays which are unavoidable due to the sheer volume of applications the LTB receives. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you know what to expect if you if you find yourself in a position where you receive a Notice of Hearing from the LTB so that you can be well prepared.
Tenants who receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail should be aware that there are numerous options for representation before the LTB. First, Tenant Duty Counsel is available to provide advice on the date of your hearing. Second, community legal clinics often provide Landlord and Tenant Board representation to those who qualify financially. Third, paralegals are entitled to act as agents before the LTB. Finally, many private practice firms, including Jasmine Daya & Co. provide Landlord and Tenant Board services for a block fee. This option allows tenants to obtain the highest quality of legal representation and advice without worrying about the financial burden of paying hourly fees. Regardless of which option is chosen, tenants and landlords would be well advised to seek legal advice before the hearing and legal representation during it.
The LTB offers a free mediation service. Before the hearing begins, the LTB adjudicator conducting the hearing will ask if any parties want to participate in mediation. At this time, the LTB adjudicator will also ask that parties exchange any evidence they intend to rely on at the hearing. If both parties agree to mediate, they’ll be placed on a list to be called by the mediator. I would strongly recommend attempting to mediate the issue in most circumstances. Mediation allows both sides to state their position in a confidential environment where an impartial third-party will attempt to broker a solution that is agreeable to all parties. The mediator will begin by asking both parties to explain their position and their requested relief. After the initial discussion, the mediator consult with both parties and their representatives individually in hopes of bridging the gap and reaching an agreement that is acceptable for all parties. Everything discussed in the mediation is confidential. If mediation fails, neither side may rely on statements made in the mediation during the hearing. The confidential nature of mediation means that neither party has anything to lose by accepting this option.
Parties who agree to mediate should have a realistic view of their position and be ready to compromise on potential solutions to the dispute. A responsible representative will help you understand not only the strengths of your position and evidence, but also the reasons why an LTB adjudicator may rule in favor of the other party. Part of mediation is risk management. Parties trade the ability to obtain an order in their favor in exchange for the guarantee they will get some relief rather than facing the prospect of receiving nothing in the event that the LTB adjudicator rules in favor of the other party. A mediated agreement may not leave either party especially happy, but it’s a guaranteed outcome both parties can live with.
If mediation fails, the matter will proceed for the scheduled hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence, make legal arguments and call witnesses during the hearing. The applicant makes their arguments first, followed by the respondent. The opposing party is entitled to question witnesses after they have been questioned by the party who called them. LTB adjudicators often take an active role in the hearing process by asking questions of witnesses or the party making submissions on the relevance of evidence or a legal argument along with asking witnesses questions to provide context, clarify an issue, or elicit new relevant information. After both parties have presented their evidence, the applicant makes submissions in favor of any remedies they are seeking followed by the respondent.
An LTB adjudicator may reserve their decision if they believe they need more time to consider the evidence presented and legal issues raised during the hearing. If the LTB adjudicator reserves their decision, both parties will receive a written decision in the mail.
If you’re a tenant or landlord anticipating an appearance before the LTB, call the Jasmine Daya & Co. team at (416) 967-9100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.