QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP critic for the Attorney General Kristyn Wong-Tam and Housing critic Jessica Bell are calling for an investigation into reports that the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB) has been prioritizing landlords’ applications for above-guideline rent increases.
Wong-Tam and Bell’s call comes amid an ongoing investigation into the LTB by the Ombudsman. They say Attorney General Doug Downey should ask the Ombudsman to widen the scope of the investigation to include these new revelations.
“We’re hearing from tenants who are waiting up to eight months to obtain a fair hearing at the Landlord Tenant Board,” said Wong-Tam. “By sending mostly corporate landlords with applications to jack up rents to the front of the line, the Ford government is allowing the pleas of tenants facing sky-high rents in apartments that are falling apart to go unanswered.
“Minister Downey needs to ensure access to justice at the LTB. The Ombudsman’s report must include this week’s leaked memo that AGI applications are being prioritized over tenants and small landlords. Ontarians who have already been waiting for years are being asked to wait even longer while corporate landlords jump the queue.
"Today, I met the Ombudsman’s office to discuss the problems Ontarians are having, and asked that this new fast lane for corporate landlords be included in the report.”
The LTB has over 80,000 applications annually. Currently, 1,733 of the applications are AGI applications, the majority of which have been filed by corporate landlords.
With the onset of the pandemic, the LTB moved online, leading to a flood of complaints from tenants and advocates expressing concern about the new format causing additional delays and impeding access to justice, particularly for low and moderate-income tenants.
"Every Ontarian deserves equitable access to a fair hearing at the Landlord Tenant Board, no matter their income, access to technology or their first language," Bell said. "Yet throughout the pandemic, my office has received calls from Ontarians struggling or unable to participate in their online hearing because they aren't fluent in English or French, because they live with disabilities, have difficulty communicating virtually with duty council, or have a poor Internet and phone connection."